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

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, FOREIGN OPERATIONS, AND RELATED PROGRAMS APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008--Continued

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Mr. BROWNBACK. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to speak on the Lieberman amendment for up to 7 minutes.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

AMENDMENT NO. 2691

Mr. BROWNBACK. Madam President, this is the Lieberman-Brownback amendment; and several others are on the amendment as well. I have worked on this issue for some period of time. Over the past 4 years, we have been able to get some funding for democracy-building activity inside of Iran. It has been a difficult project. We have not been able to get much money secured, but it follows a long tradition of successful efforts at targeting regimes that do not support democracy, that undermine democracy, indeed, even support terrorism around the world, by building civil society organizations within that country.

It is very interesting to me you can get a message into Iran, and there is a good possibility, there is an excellent prospect of building civil society organizations inside Iran. You can look at some of the things that have taken place recently where there has been a bus driver strike and the possibility of a labor union movement forming there or even with some of the teacher strikes or some of the student strikes.

You are clearly seeing the people inside Iran are opposed to the regime. We need to work, I believe, with them and with others to form civil society organizations inside Iran to go at the regime itself, and to undermine the regime itself, of saying: If you are not going to support our civil rights here, we are going to oppose you.

We saw some of these things taking place with some fruit of success inside the Ukraine, where you had a revolution that took place there, where you had a number of civil society organizations that had built up over a period of years, over time, so that when there was a movement of the people where they decided they didn't like that autocratic dictatorship, that autocratic rule that was taking place, there was an underlying group that said: Yes, here is where we should go as a group and as a society.

Plus, I think we have to recognize what Iran is. The Iranian Government is the lead sponsor of terrorism around the world. The Iranian people do not support the Government. They are in direct conflict with the United States now in their support and development and funding of troops, of people being trained in Iran or supplied in Iran to go into Iraq. We can oppose, exterior-wise, the Iranians. We can oppose the regime that way. But one of the key things we can also do is say, internally, there should be a development of a civil society within Iran, an internal support for people there.

The Iranian regime not only threatens us, they directly and violently threaten a key ally of ours in the region in Israel. In addition to the well-publicized extremist rhetoric from President Ahmadinejad, Iran directly funds groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Iran directly funds them, which are designed--these groups--to perpetuate violence and thwart efforts for Middle Eastern peace.

Their regime is engaged in a campaign against the United States interests in Iraq, as I have stated. Some in the United States would prefer to ignore Iran's threats to our operations or pretend they do not exist at all. It is increasingly clear Iran's leaders are deliberately and purposely targeting U.S. forces in Iraq. The Iranian regime does not want the United States to succeed in Iraq and is consistently resorting to violence to underscore that threat. I also note we are also learning of the regime's sponsorship of violence inside of Afghanistan as well.

In short, it is not enough to contemplate what might happen if the United States and Iran came to blows. Based on the actions of the regime in Tehran, Iran is already in conflict with the United States.

On our current course, the future is not bright. Iran is moving ever closer to a nuclear capability that will allow it to threaten the security of anyone who opposes its dreams of dominating the Middle East.

This amendment provides for the full $75 million for democracy programs. It would take the first step in this direction. We must call the regime to account for its flagrant human rights abuses committed against the Iranian people.

I have worked with a number of Iranian dissidents. I have done talk radio programs that have broadcast into Tehran.

The regime is brutal in opposing its own people. It is a huge sponsor of terrorism, the largest in the world. It is one we should oppose, and this is a key method that needs to be adequately funded--and I think hardly funded very much at $75 million. But if you cut that down to $30 million, you are below a target that probably even can be of much effect at all. We clearly need to do this.

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Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, this amendment simply reinstates the Kemp-Kasten language that has been part of U.S. policy for 25 years. I will read the amendment:

..... none of the funds made available in this Act nor any unobligated balances from prior appropriations may be made available to any organization or program which, as determined by the President, supports, or participates in the management of, a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.

All we are saying with this amendment is no U.S. funds for coercive abortion or forced, involuntary sterilization. I hope everybody in the body would be opposed to forced abortion, whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, and opposed to involuntary sterilization. These are things which have no place in U.S. policy and funding by U.S. Government agencies. If this is part of the bill, the bill will be vetoed, and it is bad policy and it is a bad idea and it is morally reprehensible.

I hope all my colleagues will vote for amendment No. 2707 and oppose forced abortion and forced sterilization.

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Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, if the Senator from California is accurate on what she stated--and I don't have any doubt she is--why don't we fund groups that support groups that are for women's rights but not ones that support abortion. The Mexico City language--and it has done this since Ronald Reagan was President--said: We will not use U.S. taxpayer funding to fund abortions overseas. We won't support groups that fund abortions overseas. You can be pro-choice and say: I think that makes sense, because I don't think we should use taxpayer funding to support abortion or to promote abortion policies overseas. We should let them decide this deeply moral subject that is a very difficult subject in our country, let alone in places around the world. I urge my colleagues to vote against the Boxer amendment. We don't need to do this. I respect the Senator from California, but I believe there are better places for us to use taxpayer funding than to fund abortions or groups that are promoting abortion overseas. It is a tough enough issue here. I urge Members to vote no.

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Mr. BROWNBACK. Mr. President, this is a simple amendment. It reinstates what U.S. policy has been since 1984. It was repealed under the Clinton administration and then brought back in, and it is simply that the United States would not fund abortions or groups that promote abortions overseas.

I wish to make one quick note to individuals. There is a new term that has entered into the lexicon, and it is called ``gendercide.'' It is in countries where abortion is being forced and promoted, where they are now having male-female ratios where the girls are being killed in utero because they are girls. It is called ``gendercide.'' I do not think it is a policy or something we should be any part of.

This amendment simply reinstates U.S. policy that we will not be involved in countries promoting abortion policies or promoting abortion with our taxpayer dollars. I ask my colleagues to vote aye on this amendment.

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