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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise to support H.R. 3509--the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act.
I would like to commend my colleague, Congresswoman BARBARA LEE, for introducing this legislation and I am happy to be an original cosponsor of this important bill aimed to provide greater oversight of U.S. taxpayer funding for reconstruction efforts in Haiti.
This bill calls for a State Department review of the U.S. funded recovery and development efforts in Haiti, which began over three years ago in the wake of the deadly 2010 earthquake.
In June of 2012, then-Ranking Member Berman and I requested that the GAO investigate the progress of reconstruction efforts in Haiti.
This report was important to ensure that American dollars are going to the Haitian people who are truly in need and not resulting in fraud, waste and abuse.
This year, GAO issued the report and I was disappointed to learn that three years after the earthquake, emergency relief efforts were still woefully disorganized, with much of the funds: not reaching the Haitian people; USAID is suffering to get some programs off the ground; and the lack of coordination between U.S. federal agencies is inadequate.
As of March 2013, USAID had obligated only 45 percent and disbursed 31 percent of funding for Haiti from the Supplemental Appropriations Act from 2010.
Meanwhile, delays continue to mount and goals are being scaled back.
For example, USAID originally planned to build 15,000 new homes.
That number has been decreased to just 2,600 homes causing 62,000 fewer people who will be given shelter as they attempt to recover from this humanitarian disaster.
The American people deserve to know that their tax dollars are being spent wisely and at the same time we must ensure that we are helping the Haitian people recover from the earthquake and poverty.
This requires a clear and comprehensive strategy to improve the situation on the ground for the people of Haiti.
Lastly Mr. Speaker, this resolution makes it U.S. policy to promote the holding of free, fair, and timely elections in accordance with democratic principles and the Haitian Constitution.
It is encouraging to see that the Haitian Parliament has passed a new electoral law and it has recently been signed by their President.
This positive step forward can now set in motion the necessary requirements in order to hold senatorial and local elections next year--elections that have been long overdue since 2011.
The U.S. government will stand ready to help the Haitian government hold these elections and ensure that every Haitian has the right to vote for their elected representatives.
Once again, I am thankful that this important bill is on the floor today and I urge my colleagues to support this measure to ensure our oversight responsibility over U.S. taxpayer dollars in Haiti.
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