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Omnibus Appropriations

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Date:
Location: Washington DC

CONGRESSIONAL RECORD
SENATE
Nov. 20, 2004

OMNIBUS APPROPRIATIONS

Mr. GRAHAM of Florida. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. GRAHAM of Florida. Mr. President, I first thank my friend from Minnesota for his very kind remarks and for the tenacity with which he oversees, supports, and advocates for the education of the children of his State. I admire his priorities.

I wish I could say the same thing about another action taken today in the House of Representatives. We have a neighbor with which we have had long historic and cultural ties. The case could be made that there would not be a United States of America today but for the aid of this neighbor. And that neighbor is the country of Haiti. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, one of the poorest countries in the world. It is a country with a gigantic illiteracy problem, a gigantic health problem, a gigantic unemployment problem. We have demonstrated the fact that actions in Haiti have an effect on our national interests by having invaded Haiti repeatedly during the 20th and now into the 21st century.

Our typical invasion has been to deal with whatever was defined as the immediate problem, stay there for a brief period of time, and then leave. Soon all the problems that caused our previous involvement recurred.

We invaded Haiti yet again earlier this year. I am concerned we may well have to repeat that if we do not take action to deal with two fundamental problems. One is security, the second is jobs.

In terms of security, we left Haiti in June of this year with the understanding that the United Nations would provide significant security forces. Approximately 6,000 were committed from a variety of nations in the Western Hemisphere and elsewhere. As of the middle of last month, less than half of those 6,000 commitments had been fulfilled. That contributes substantially to violence, to threatening the stability and continuation of the government. It has encouraged the same kind of forces that used to man the Tonton Macoutes and the military services of the Duvaliers to seek a hope that they might resurrect themselves.

Second is that the economy of Haiti has continued, as unbelievable as it is, to slide further into wretched poverty.

There was legislation introduced by my good friend, Senator DeWine of Ohio-I was pleased to cosponsor it-which would have given to Haiti some of the benefits which this Congress has recently provided to the poorest nations of Sub-Saharan Africa, to allow Haiti to have some hope of building an economy that allows some 75,000 to 100,000 Haitians to get a job, generating a sufficient income to support their families. That legislation passed this Chamber unanimously. It had the total support of the Senate. That legislation went to the House of Representatives. Senator DeWine and I and others testified before the Ways and Means Committee as to the urgency of action, both the humanitarian aspects of this legislation, but, also, frankly, the self-interests of the United States of America in avoiding another collapse of that neighboring country.

I have been joined now by Senator DeWine. Senator DeWine has given an enormous amount of compassionate, aggressive leadership to this issue, and we had every expectation that we were on a track to get this legislation adopted in the House of Representatives until our first disappointment occurred when the leadership of the Ways and Means Committee decided to abandon the legislation that had already passed unanimously in the Senate and adopt a competing but much diluted bill for their effort to provide some assistance to Haiti.

I cannot speak for Senator DEWINE, but I speak for myself, that I was disappointed the extent of the legislation that the Senate had passed looked as if it was unlikely to be enacted, but at least there would be something that the U.S. Congress would have done for the people of Haiti and again for our own self-interest. Unfortunately, we have heard in the last 36 hours that it looks as if even that thin response will not be brought before the House of Representatives during this session of Congress.

I am extremely disappointed at what that says about our real values in terms of feeling a kindredship with our neighbors within this hemisphere. I am also disappointed at what that says about the Chambers of the U.S. Congress. My hope burns eternal, and now that it appears as if there is a reasonable expectation that we will return the week of December 6 to take final action possibly on the omnibus monstrosity that stands before the Senate, and hopefully also on the subject of my previous remarks, intelligence reform, I hope we would also place on the agenda at that last hour an opportunity for Members of Congress to show they were not cold-hearted and without concern for fellow human beings, and that this effort, as minimal as it is, would be a symbol of our concern and, hopefully, a platform from which more effective and extensive U.S. action could be taken.

Mr. DeWINE. I wonder if my colleague will yield for a question.

Mr. GRAHAM of Florida. I yield.

Mr. DeWINE. Would my colleague agree-my colleague certainly is an expert on Haiti, having traveled there many times-the situation in Haiti is certainly not getting any better today; with this trade legislation we have talked about, both the House version of the bill and the Senate version of the bill would appreciably help the situation for the people of Haiti as well as help our foreign policy.

Mr. GRAHAM of Florida. Absolutely. In fact, in addition to all the systemic problems I cited, in the last few months Haiti has been hit with two dramatic climate-based tragedies. Earlier in the year on the east side of the country there were massive floods that resulted in the deaths of over 1,000. Then during this hurricane season on the western part of Haiti, there were similar floods that cost in excess of 1,000 lives.

I would refer my colleagues to a program that appeared just last night on the "NewsHour" about the circumstances in Gonaives, the third largest city in Haiti, which was the epicenter of that hurricane that hit just a few weeks ago. And yet today the circumstances are, if anything, worse than they were the day after the hurricane passed.

So I say to the Senator, yes, anything that we could do that would help and would show our willingness to help would be very well received in Haiti.

Mr. DeWINE. I wonder if my colleague from Florida would yield for another question?

Mr. GRAHAM of Florida. Yes.

Mr. DeWINE. My colleague has studied this issue, I know, extensively. I wonder if he would agree that the proposed bill from the Senate, as well as the proposed bill the House was considering, while both would have a significant impact on the people of Haiti in the future as far as actual job creation, it would have, really, minimal impact, if any impact, on the United States as far as jobs. In fact, would he agree also that some of the experts we have consulted believe these two bills would actually help create jobs in the United States?

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time has expired.

Mr. GRAHAM of Florida. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent for an additional 2 minutes.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. GRAHAM of Florida. I say to the Senator, of all the exports that come in to Haiti, the vast majority come from the United States of America, including most of their food. Therefore, if the purchasing power of the Haitian people is even minimally increased, it will make a good neighbor and a good consumer of U.S. goods even more capable of doing so.

So I agree with the Senator's economic assessment that the modest amount of aid that we are giving, not in the form of aid but rather aid through trade, will redound to our economic benefit as well as to our sense of national comity with our neighbors in the hemisphere.

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