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Public Statements

The Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. SCHIFF. I want to begin by commending Chairwoman Lowey for her extraordinary work on this bill and the really exemplary way that she has chaired this committee. I also want to commend our ranking member, Mr. Wolf.

Our Chair and ranking member have crafted a bill that I think reflects the bipartisan approach to America's engagement in the world that we should have. It supports a view that I share that a healthier, better educated and more secure developing world means a safer world for America.

After several years where diplomacy was marginalized and the men and women of the State Department were relegated to junior-partner status in the national security policymaking apparatus, this committee is moving our policy towards a new primacy for diplomacy.

This bill is important to our efforts to fight terrorism, foster peaceful diplomacy, and improve the quality of life for millions of the world's most vulnerable citizens.

The bill recognizes the inextricable ties between development and security. It is mindful of the fact that we are ultimately locked in a struggle for hearts and minds and that an excessive reliance on military force as the primary lever of American policy can be counterproductive, and that terrorists often seek to draw an American military response and may be strengthened by it.

I also want to point to two provisions that I think have broad implications for the global environment and the quest to stem the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

The bill supports innovative new approaches to fostering renewable energy that Steve Israel and I have advocated by including a provision to encourage the Export-Import Bank to seek out investments in renewable energy and other environmentally beneficial products. This initiative could result in an estimated $1 billion in additional green exports in 2008 and will encourage the use of renewable energy worldwide while helping the U.S. producers of renewable energy and green products. This is a step forward in our competitiveness and a step forward for the environment.

The bill also includes language that supports the Small Arms/Light Weapons destruction program, a State Department initiative to destroy grenades, guns and man-portable air defense systems that might otherwise fall into hostile hands. By funding this important program, we have increased our commitment to countering the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, weapons that could end up in the hands of terrorists, criminals and human rights-abusing governments around the world.

I thank the chair and ranking member for their extraordinary efforts.


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