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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. BERMAN. I thank the gentleman from Florida for yielding me this time, and I rise in strong support of the rule authorizing the Foreign Relations Act to come to the floor, H. Res. 522. This rule covers both H.R. 2410, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011, and H.R. 1886, the Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement Act of 2009.

These are both critical measures. H.R. 2410 provides the resources necessary for the President to realize his vision of making vigorous diplomacy a cornerstone of our strategy to promote U.S. national security.

By wisely investing resources to strengthen our diplomatic capabilities, we can help prevent conflicts before they start and head off the conditions that lead to failed states. This approach is a much more cost-effective one than providing massive amounts of humanitarian aid, funding peacekeeping operations or, in the most extreme circumstances, deploying U.S. troops into harm's way.

I think the Rules Committee has crafted a fair rule in regard to the bill, one that continues our efforts to include a number of amendments from the Republican side.

With respect to H.R. 1886 regarding Pakistan, I do not need to remind my
colleagues of the challenge to U.S. national security posed by the situation in that country.

We cannot allow al Qaeda and any other terrorist group that threatens our national security interests to operate with impunity in the tribal regions or any other part of Pakistan. Nor can we permit the Pakistani State and its nuclear arsenal to be taken over by the Taliban. H.R. 1886 was designed to address these threats by supporting democracy, enhancing U.S. economic assistance, and providing the Pakistani military with the tools they need to fight the terrorists.

I am pleased we could work out a consensus on this important bill with our colleagues on the Committee on Armed Services as reflected in the amendment made in order by the rule. And I'm also pleased that the rule makes in order a Republican substitute. This way we can discuss the best way forward to ensure that we get the results we need in this ongoing effort to combat those who threaten our Armed Forces, our allies, and even our homeland.

I urge all my colleagues to support the rule.

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Mr. BERMAN. I again thank my friend from Florida for yielding me some additional time.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to use this time to deal with one of the points made by my friend from Florida (Mr. Lincoln Diaz-Balart) and then more substantially to the issue raised by the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith).

Mr. Diaz-Balart cited a letter signed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense that was sent a number of weeks ago, long before a series of changes were made in this bill. At the time that letter was sent, we had a very elaborate resolution of disapproval process for the Presidential determinations. That has been struck. We had a very high waiver standard vital to national security interests. That has been struck. We had a great dispute that was existing over how the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Cooperation Fund should work. Those issues have all been worked out with the House Armed Services Committee. The House Armed Services Committee has worked through all of these issues with us. They are reflected in the Pakistan bill. This is the committee to whom the Secretary's letter was addressed. A number of changes have been made. My friend's comments relate more to the Pentagon's view of this bill before all those changes were made than they do now.

The issues I would really like to focus on are the issues raised by the gentleman from New Jersey. This is a State Department authorization bill.

The first thing was to put together this bill to say we are not going to use this piece of legislation to change the substantive law on the issue that is so controversial for which disagreements are so strong in this House. This is not going to be a vehicle for changing the law on that subject. So, when a number of the groups came with a compelling case--the pro-choice groups--that we should include a provision in this bill that prohibits any President in the future from imposing an executive order, such as the Mexico City policies, I said I would love to. I support that position, but we're not going to use this bill to do it.

The gentleman from New Jersey, in his heart, is not truly driving at the Office of Global Women's Issues. This is an office that, in one form or another, has been around since 1975. Their purpose is to promote education for women and girls around the world and to promote political empowerment, like the right to vote for women and dealing with problems of violence against women. There is no basis for assuming that this office is going to do anything to promote or to lobby for abortion.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I yield the gentleman an additional 2 minutes.

Mr. BERMAN. Moreover, in the manager's amendment, which is made in order by this rule that we are now debating, I said let us establish in policy our statement of neutrality on this issue. We include in the manager's amendment a provision which says nothing in this section, and in particular, the duties of the Office of Global Women's Issues, shall be construed as affecting in any way existing statutory prohibitions against abortion. There will be no change whatsoever in existing statutory prohibitions against abortion or in existing statutory prohibitions on the use of funds to engage in any activity or effort to alter the laws or policies in effect in any foreign country concerning the circumstances under which abortion is permitted, regulated or prohibited.

That means the Siljander amendment, the Helms amendment and the Leahy amendment, which construct the current state of the law with respect to U.S. efforts on this issue abroad, remain in effect and unchanged, and there is nothing in the statutory institutionalization of an already existing Office of Global Women's Issues that will change any of that. We reaffirm that by this statute.

What the gentleman from New Jersey wants to do--he didn't quite say it, but he acknowledges it when asked about it--is change the law. That's legitimate. He can have his efforts; but for those of us who say let's not use this as a vehicle one way or the other and for those of us who have rejected efforts that we, personally, support and to which I am very much committed in the pro-choice community regarding this issue, there is no basis for saying that this bill is defective because it doesn't serve either side's agenda on this particular issue.

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