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Public Statements

Assistance To Libya

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Speaker, I am here to speak on a different topic, on U.S. assistance to Libya and the need for U.N. and foreign aid reform in our budgeting process.

Madam Speaker, just as the convicted extremist of Pan Am Flight 103 was being given a hero's welcome in Libya and just prior to the Libyan leader's own bizarre 93-minute diatribe against all freedom-loving nations before the U.N. General Assembly last week, the Congress was receiving a notification from our State Department that it intended to provide $2.5 million in economic support funds for Libya. That's unbelievable.

The State Department plans also to send 400,000 of those dollars to organizations run by members of the Qaddafifamily; $200,000 of this is to go to the Qaddafi Development Foundation for assisting indigenous NGOs identify potential for reform. Reform in Libya? You have got to be kidding. This foundation is not a nongovernment organization. It has direct links to Libyan Government and is actually run by the son of Qaddafi. For those of who don't know Qaddafi's second oldest son, he is the one who personally escorted the man responsible for the tragedy of Pan Am Flight 103 from Scotland upon his release back to Libya on his father's personal jet.

The foundation run by Qaddafi's second eldest son is the very group that was used by the Libyan regime to channel funds to compensate American victims of Libyan-sponsored attacks, including victims of Pan Am Flight 103. State Department funding for this foundation may, in fact, serve as a backdoor replenishment of funds used by Libya to compensate our victims of Libyan-sponsored attacks.

Turning to a separate $200,000 slush fund proposed under the heading of ``Inclusive Economic Law and Property Rights: Promoting Women's Economic Opportunities,'' the State Department has indicated that the anticipated implementing partners will be the United Nations Development Programme and an organization run by Qaddafi's daughter. Qaddafi's daughter also serves as the UNDP's goodwill ambassador to Libya, so she gets two opportunities to directly benefit from U.S. Government programs in Libya at our taxpayers' expense.

The role of the United Nation Development Programme is very disturbing. It has been the center of several major corruption scandals in recent years. It reportedly cannot account for millions of American dollars that it received in Afghanistan. It also allegedly funneled hard currency to the North Korean regime while Kim Jong Il was consolidating his nuclear program. UNDP then retaliated against the whistleblower who uncovered this wrongdoing.

So I ask you, was funding for the Qaddafi family and a notoriously unaccountable UNDP what Congress had in mind when it appropriated funds to support what they call promotion of democracy and human rights in Libya? Oh, my gosh. Absolutely not.

Unfortunately, the Libya aid program presents just one more example of the need for broad, comprehensive reform of the United States foreign assistance program. Our U.S. foreign assistance can go a long way in improving people's lives while promoting our most cherished ideals of freedom and human rights. However, when administered poorly where unaccounted foreign governments, international organizations and bureaucrats are the beneficiaries, then our foreign aid programs only serve to undermine our very own interests.

It is time for us to get serious about reforming our foreign aid system and about effectively vetting our programs and partners.

Toward this end, Madam Speaker, I have proposed two separate pieces of legislation: H.R. 1062, the Foreign Assistance Partner Vetting Act, and H.R. 557, the United Nation's Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act, and I hope that we can get those bills heard forthwith.

Thank you very much, Madam Speaker.


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