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House Subcommittee Approves Foreign Aid Bill for Latin America

On May 5, the House International Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere approved, by voice vote, a bill (H. R. 3447) to establish the United States Social Investment and Economic Development Fund for the Americas.

Sponsored by Rep. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the measure contains a number of findings, including:

  • To make progress toward economic and social integration, there is a compelling need to focus on the social development of the people of the Americas which, in turn, will promote the economic and political development of the region;
  • Investment in social development in the Americas, including investment in human and social capital, specifically in education, health, housing, and labor markets with the goal of combating social exclusion and social ills, will consolidate political democracy and the rule of law and promote regional economic integration and trade in the region; and
  • Marginalized groups, including indigenous populations, people of African descent, women, people with disabilities, and rural populations, are socially excluded and suffer from poverty, stigma, and discrimination.


H.R. 3447 would authorize $500 million annually through FY2009 for assistance to foster increased economic opportunity in the countries of the Western Hemisphere by nurturing public-private partnerships and microenterprise development; improving the quality of life and investing in human capital, specifically targeting education, health and disease prevention, and housing; reducing poverty; and eliminating the exclusion of marginalized populations.

In his opening remarks, Chair Cass Ballenger (R-NC) stated, “We share a common goal on this Subcommittee in helping our friends and neighbors in the Caribbean and in Central and South America become more prosperous and free. I hope that moving forward with this bill sends a clear signal that Members on both sides of the aisle are serious about working together toward that purpose.”

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