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Recess

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


RECESS -- (Senate - March 03, 2009)

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Mr. WICKER. Madam President, I also ask unanimous consent that the following Senators be added as cosponsors of amendment No. 607: Senator Enzi, Senator Bunning, Senator Inhofe, Senator Coburn, Senator Vitter, and Senator Grassley.

The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. THUNE. Madam President, would the Senator yield?

Mr. WICKER. I will yield to the Senator.

The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from South Dakota.

Mr. THUNE. I ask unanimous consent to be added as a cosponsor to the Senator's amendment.

The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. WICKER. Madam President, I spoke at some length yesterday about this amendment. It deals with one issue and one issue only--whether U.S. taxpayer dollars will be provided in this omnibus bill to help fund coercive population control policies, such as China's one-child policy--a policy that relies on coerced abortion and forced sterilization.

Specifically, this pro-child, pro-family, pro-woman amendment would restore the Kemp-Kasten antipopulation control provision, which has been a fundamental part of our foreign policy for almost a quarter century. As it has always done, Kemp-Kasten allows the President of the United States to certify that funds are not used for coercive family practices. As it has always done, the provision would allow the President to release those funds after he has made such a certification.

My amendment is needed because the underlying bill reverses this longstanding provision. The omnibus bill that we have before us purports to retain Kemp-Kasten, but then it also includes six troubling words that effectively kill the provision. In addition to Kemp-Kasten, the bill directs funds to the United Nations Population Fund, or UNFPA ``notwithstanding any other provision of law.''

Perhaps these words were added inadvertently. I don't know. But the words that are added--those six little words--represent a loophole that in effect guts Kemp-Kasten and alters this longstanding bipartisan foreign policy in the process.

Some people may ask why restoring Kemp-Kasten is important, and here is why. The U.N. Population Fund, a group that is in line to receive some $50 million in this bill, has actively supported, comanaged, and whitewashed crimes against women under the cover of family planning. Under the Kemp-Kasten provision, the last administration withheld money from UNFPA for this very reason. I would like to quote then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, who stated:

UNFPA support of and involvement in China's population planning activities allows the Chinese Government to implement more effectively its program of coercive abortion. Therefore, it is not permissible to continue funding UNFPA at this time.

That is the end of the quote from our Secretary of State.

A further analysis by the U.S. State Department of the Chinese program on family planning reveals this--I will quote from the State Department analysis:

China's birth limitation program retains harshly coercive elements in law and practice, including coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization.

Does anyone in this Senate want to spend U.S. funds to support these activities: coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization? I think we ought to have a unanimous consensus in the Congress that we have no business spending our taxpayers' dollars on such things. The report goes on to say:

The State Department summarized these practices in its 2007 China Country Report on Human Rights Practices. ..... These measures include the implementation of birth limitation regulations, the provision of obligatory contraceptive services, and the use of incentives and penalties to induce compliance.

Further in the report, and I continue to quote:

China's Birth Limitation Program relies on harshly coercive measures such as so-called ``social maintenance'' fees.

And to skip down further:

In families that already have two children, one parent is often pressured to undergo sterilization. A number of provinces have legal provisions that require a woman to have an abortion if her pregnancy violates government regulations. .....

I wish we could stop this practice worldwide. China is a sovereign nation, and they have the power to impose these laws on their people. But taxpayer funds should not be spent from the U.S. Treasury to assist an organization that funds such practices in China.

The most recent State Department report on UNFPA activities shows that their funds are indeed funneled to Chinese agencies that coercively enforce the very practices I just read about. Are we to believe that in less than a year the UNFPA has changed its practices? That is not a bet I am willing to take with the taxpayers' money.

The Wicker amendment should be adopted to once again give the President, President Obama, the opportunity to certify that UNFPA, or any other organization, is not participating in family planning techniques such as the harsh techniques I just read about.

My amendment does not represent a radical shift or departure from what is normal. In fact, it simply returns the language in this bill to language that was agreed upon by both Republicans and Democrats in last year's Foreign Operations appropriations bill during a time when Democrats controlled the House of Representatives and controlled the Senate of the United States. The language that I am offering was agreed upon by Republicans and Democrats.

Finally, there have been concerns voiced about the need not to make changes in this bill. We have been told this bill has been preconferenced. Persons say that in doing so we might delay the bill's passage by sending it back to the House for approval. I admit the funding contained in this bill is important, but that does not mean we can forget about our jobs as legislators. I do not believe the other body will let this bill die simply because we are doing what is right, by clarifying our country's policy of standing against coercive population control practices like forced abortion and forced sterilization.

I realize opinions in this Chamber and across our country vary greatly on the issue of abortion. I am pro-life and I am mindful that some Members in this body would describe themselves as pro-choice. But regardless of where we come down on that issue, can't we agree that we do not want to spend taxpayer dollars to force this on women who do not want this procedure? We ought to all be able to agree that is wrong and that is a misuse of American taxpayer funds.

The United States should not turn its head on coercive family control programs like sterilization and forced abortion, and our taxpayers should not have their dollars used to help fund such horrible acts. My amendment will help stop that from happening. It restores a longstanding foreign policy provision. It reflects our Nation's commitment to promoting human rights. I urge its adoption.

I yield the floor.

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