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Senate Passes Foreign Operations Spending Bill

Breaking the logjam of FY2002 spending bills, this week the Senate approved the FY2002 foreign operations appropriations bill (H.R. 2506). Consideration of the measure was delayed due to controversy over the approval of judicial nominees. After Republicans agreed to drop their filibuster, the Senate on October 24 passed the bill by a vote of 96-2. The House passed its version of the bill on July 24 (see The Source, 7/27/01, p. 1).

During debate on October 23, the Senate approved, by unanimous consent, an amendment by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) that would allow funds to be used by the Government of Cambodia’s Ministry of Women and Veteran’s Affairs to combat human trafficking.

On October 24, the Senate approved, by unanimous consent, an amendment by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Brownback expressing the sense of the Senate that Afghan women’s organizations be included in the future reconstruction of Afghanistan and that future governments in Afghanistan ensure that women participate in all aspects of civil, economic, and social life.

Another amendment by Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Brownback was approved by unanimous consent the same day. Under the amendment, $2 million under the Economic Support Fund would be made available for programs and activities that train emerging Afghan women leaders in civil society development and democracy building.

One of the major differences between the House and Senate bills pertains to international family planning programs. The Senate bill includes language that would repeal the Mexico City policy, which was implemented earlier this year by executive order. Under that policy, nongovernmental organizations that use their own funds to provide abortions abroad or to lobby foreign governments on abortion policy are prohibited from receiving U.S. funds. The House bill would maintain the restriction.

International family planning programs would receive $450 million under the Senate measure, a $25 million increase over last year. The House-passed bill would provide level-funding at $425 million. Senate committee report language states that “it is important for the United States to provide more support for family planning services in developing countries, where 95 percent of new births will occur.”

An additional $39 million would be provided for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a $14 million increase over last year and the President’s request. Under the bill, no U.S. funds could be spent in China. The House-passed measure included the same restrictions but would provide $25 million.

The Senate bill would provide $1.46 billion for the Child Survival and Health Programs Fund, while the House-passed bill would provide $1.39 billion. Within this account, under the Senate bill, $415 million would be provided for global HIV/AIDS initiatives. Of this amount, $375 million would be provided through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and $40 million would be provided for the U.S. contribution to a global HIV/AIDS trust fund. An additional $10 million in FY2001 carryover funds would be provided for the trust fund, bringing the total FY2002 contribution to the trust fund to $50 million. The House-passed bill would provide a $100 million contribution.

Overall, the Senate bill would provide $450 million for global HIV/AIDS activities: $375 million for USAID activities, $50 million for the international trust fund, and $25 million through other accounts. Committee report language notes that the “first priority for these funds should be to support HIV/AIDS prevention programs.”

The House-passed bill would provide $474 million for global HIV/AIDS activities. Of the total amount, $434 million would be funded through the Child Survival and Health Programs Fund and $40 million would be funded through other USAID accounts. The committee report states that “microbicides, reduction of mother-to-child transmission, support for affected orphans, and TB” should be given priority for the additional funding.

Both the House and Senate committee reports included language stating that USAID should provide at least $15 million for microbicides research and development. The Senate committee report states that “microbicide products, while not yet available, are being tested in several countries and have the potential to be particularly important for women, whose risk of HIV/STD infection is high and whose control over existing prevention options is low.” The House report states that “there is an urgent need for the development of HIV and STD prevention methods within women’s personal control.”

Additionally, the Senate committee report urges the USAID Women in Development Office to ensure that HIV/AIDS programs take into account the specific impact of the disease on women and girls. “The vulnerability of women and girls to HIV/AIDS infection is increased, in part, due to a lack of economic opportunities, culturally defined gender roles, and widespread violence against women.”

The Senate bill would provide $50 million for maternal health activities, and the committee report states that “additional funding may be made available specifically to reduce pregnancy-related deaths.” The House-passed bill did not include a comparable figure. However, the committee report includes language regarding child survival and maternal health in the former Soviet Union. The report encourages USAID to provide $45 million for such activities, noting the “low priority assigned to declining maternal and environmental health conditions and the increasing incidence of TB/HIV/AIDS in Russia, Ukraine, and the Central Asian republics.”

Development assistance would be funded at $1.24 billion, a decrease from the $1.31 billion appropriated in FY2001, under the Senate bill. The House-passed bill would provide $1.1 billion.

The USAID Women in Development Office would be level-funded at $15 million in both the House and Senate bills. Senate committee report language “requests the USAID Administrator to seriously consider strengthening the WID Office.” Specifically, the report suggests that the Administrator consider appointing a person at the Deputy Assistant Administrator level to head the office, creating a WID Working Group, and increasing the office’s budget. The Senate committee report recommends that $600,000 be provided for the Women’s Campaign International, which “works to enhance the status of women through media, leadership, business, organizational, and public-service training in developing countries.” Also, the report recommends that $100,000 be provided for the Vital Voices Global Partnership, which supports women leaders working to increase economic opportunities for women.

Additionally, the House committee report requests AID to “consider the merits of supporting the creation of a new women’s university in Africa, designed to train African women in health sciences, education, agriculture, and business.” The committee also encourages AID to provide $40 million in FY2002 through FY2003 to fund the Education for Development and Democracy Initiative, which creates partnerships and provides entrepreneurial training focused on girls and women. According to the committee report, more than 6,000 girls have been awarded scholarships and an additional 6,000 girls will receive them.

Under the Senate bill, children’s basic education would receive $135 million, while the House-passed bill would provide $150 million. Both committee reports urge USAID to “emphasize programs that expand access and quality of education for girls.”

Senate committee report language expresses concern about the status of women in Sierra Leone, noting that an estimated 20 percent of women and girls in the country have been victims of rape and sexual violence. The report urges USAID to “expand services to rape victims though NGOs, and requests the State Department to develop and support a public education program on women’s rights for both men and women.”

Report language accompanying the Senate bill also commends efforts to implement programs to combat domestic violence in Russia and states that further “emphasis should be given to strengthening police and prosecutorial capacity.” The House committee report includes similar language.

The Senate bill would provide $10 million for programs to counter trafficking in persons. Report language states that the committee “remains strongly committed to assisting women and children who are often the most innocent victims of this gross human rights violation, which also contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS.”

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