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Public Statements

Providing For Consideration Of H.R. 1886, Pakistan Enduring Assistance And Cooperation Enhancement Act Of 2009, And Providing For Consideration Of H.R. 2410, Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2010 And 2011

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. I thank my good friend for yielding.

I rise in opposition to the rule.

Let me just say at the outset, Mr. Speaker, in the 1990s, I served as chairman of the International Operations and Human Rights Subcommittee, at first having served as ranking member to Tom Lantos. Then when the House went Republican, we switched and I became the chairman of that committee. And one of the responsibilities of that committee was to write the Foreign Relations Act, the State Department Reauthorization Act, for the country. And we worked very hard, Mr. Lantos and I, very diligently in crafting a bill that was, A, truly bipartisan and, B, open to virtually every amendment that Members wanted to offer.

I remember bringing a bill to the floor, Mr. Speaker, where every day Members just had to file their amendments in the Congressional Record, a preprinting requirement, so in the morning we would wake up and find out what amendments might be offered, and then we would deal and dispatch positively or negatively with those amendments. The process was open, transparent and fair.

Today we have a very much closed rule, except on matters where there is consensus. Sure, there are some Republican amendments. But on areas where there is significant and fundamental disagreement, especially an amendment that I had hoped to offer to authorize the office for Global Women's Issues, I had been precluded that opportunity. And I want to say to my colleagues I didn't do that when I chaired the subcommittee, and I worked very hard in a bipartisan way with my friends, and I do consider you on the other side of the aisle friends, to ensure that we all got to express our voice and vote on things that mattered, that we all had an opportunity to express ourselves.

In Committee, I offered an amendment to establish a Global Office on Women's Issues. It lost in a party-line vote. Every Democrat voted against it; every Republican voted for it. That legislation would have established a new Office for Global Women's Issues led by an ambassador-at-large, designed to coordinate and advise on activities, policies, programs, and funding related to women's empowerment internationally. The amendment would promote activities designed to expand educational opportunities and job training for women, equal pay for equal work, microfinancing and microenterprise programs for women, property inheritance rights for women, an improvement of maternal mortality, expand pregnancy care centers, combat forced abortions and forced sterilization, to enhance our efforts in the area of sex and labor trafficking particularly of women and other forms of violence against women, seeking an end to genital mutilation, stop child marriage, and promote changes in male attitudes and behavior that are detrimental to women. That was all prescribed in the legislation, and obviously other things could be included as well, consistent with core human rights norms that all human life, Mr. Speaker, is sacred and precious and worthy of protection regardless of age, sex, race, color, creed, disability, wantedness, or condition of dependency. My amendment sought to hold harmless unborn children and their mothers from the violence of abortion.

The Smith amendment is abortion neutral and states that the new office shall not engage in activities to author the laws or the policies of foreign countries with regard to how abortion is regulated or permitted. Abortion neutral. I would like it to be a pro-life office that says it time to empower and embrace and enfranchise unborn children.

I say to my colleagues, We live in 2009. We no longer have any doubts about the humanity of an unborn child. Unborn children are just like you and I except they're young, they're immature, and they're dependent. And their human rights are violated with impunity not just in this country but around the world. Sadly, the Obama administration, and I say this with great sadness, Mr. Obama is well on his way to becoming the abortion President. Virtually everything he has done through Executive order and through appointments and through other policies promote the killing of unborn children and the wounding of their mothers.

So I rise in opposition to this rule, Mr. Speaker. Whether this body chose to vote up or down on my amendment, we should have had the opportunity. It saddens me greatly because, again, I have great affection for the chairman, Chairman Berman, and for his staff, with whom I have worked very closely on human rights issues. This is a human rights issue.

There could be a consensus about the new office that's being created, that has already been created, and that this gives statutory affirmation to for women's issues. But, unfortunately, we will not have that opportunity.

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. I thank my good friend for yielding.

I just want to say to my pro-life friends on the Democrat side of the aisle: think consequences.

In late April, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified one of our hearings--and this is the question I posed to her--Is the Obama administration seeking in any way to weaken or to overturn pro-life laws and policies in African nations and in Latin American countries either directly through multilateral organizations, including the United Nations, the African Union or the Organization of American States, or by way of funding NGOs like Planned Parenthood?

Secretary of State Clinton answered that the administration was ``entitled'' to advocate abortion ``anywhere in the world.''

She also went on to redefine the words ``reproductive health,'' which are found in many documents and in many laws around the world, in a way completely contrary to the accepted definition by the previous administration and by many others to now include abortion. So every time you see those words now in a document, to the Clintons and to the Obamas, they mean ``abortion on demand.''

The Office of Global Women's Issues should be all about promoting human rights for women. Promoting violence against children and promoting the wounding of their mothers by advocating abortion is not human rights. It is the contrary. It is the exact opposite.

I hope my colleagues will realize that the amendment that my good friend and colleague, the chairman of the committee, Mr. Berman, is offering simply restates current law. It says the new office will follow the law. Did anybody expect that the office would not follow the law? Of course they would. Well, hopefully, they would.

We need to make sure, we need to ensure that this new office, which will be a command and control center, for women's rights and empowerment and not become an office for NARAL, for Planned Parenthood or for others in the promotion of child deaths around the world. Let's hold harmless the precious lives of unborn children. Let's mitigate maternal mortality and all of the other crises affecting women, not the killing of unborn babies.

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