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Public Statements

Assistance for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children in Developing Countries Act of 2004

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


ASSISTANCE FOR ORPHANS AND OTHER VULNERABLE CHILDREN IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES ACT OF 2004 --
(House of Representatives - June 14, 2004)

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 4061) to amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to provide assistance for orphans and other vulnerable children in developing countries, as amended.

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous materials on the bill under consideration.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentlewoman from Florida?

There was no objection.

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in strong support of the Assistance for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Childrens Act of 2004. This is an important bipartisan bill introduced by my good friend, the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Lee) and cosponsored by me as well as 84 other Members.

H.R. 4061 amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to create a new title, authorizing the provision of assistance to orphans and other vulnerable children in developing countries.

H.R. 4061 will prepare USAID for the important responsibility as established by Public Law 108-25, the United States leadership against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003, which specifies that by the year 2006, not less than 10 percent of all HIV/AIDS monies must be programmed in support of the needs of orphans and vulnerable children affected by AIDS.

By the year 2010, Mr. Speaker, it is estimated that there will be 25 million children orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS. Entire villages are already being affected by this pandemic. This bill recognizes that the United States Government will need to establish improved capacity to deliver assistance to such orphans and vulnerable children through partnerships with private voluntary organizations, including faith-based organizations.

H.R. 4061 will authorize the President to provide assistance for the care and the treatment of orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS. It encourages the use of community care councils, of responsible citizens to identify the needs of and assist orphans in their communities instead of sending them off to orphanages or institutions.

As the number of orphans increases, the ability of communities to provide basic care for their children is limited. Assistance to
support the provisions of basic care by communities is necessary, in addition to the assistance furnished directly by U.S. agencies through the President's initiative on AIDS and Public Law 108-25.

This bill also encourages the use of assistance to eliminate school fees in developing countries. This practice results in keeping orphans and vulnerable children out of school. Children of all circumstances should be in school and not kept out if they are affected by or infected with HIV/AIDS.

This legislation establishes greater accountability within USAID by establishing an Office for Orphans and Vulnerable Children that will have oversight of all programs for such children, not just AIDS orphans. It will enable USAID to adopt a more comprehensive approach to assisting children through the work of its field missions and through centrally managed activities.

In summary, H.R. 4061 creates accountable mechanisms within USAID. It will also ensure that other U.S. assistance for orphaned and vulnerable children is accountable, measurable and coordinated. H.R. 4061 promotes accountability and effectiveness of existing United States foreign assistance.

I seek Members' support for this important legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I commend the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Lee) for this wonderful bill; we look forward to its passage; and I yield back the balance of my time.

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