EMERGENCY SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT FOR DEFENSE, THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR, AND TSUNAMI RELIEF ACT, 2005--CONFERENCE REPORT--Continued
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Mr. KOHL. Mr. President, although I will vote for this conference report, I feel obliged to alert my colleagues to a serious flaw. This bill does not provide enough international food aid. And if emerging reports are correct, I fear we are about to enter a spring and summer of agony in some of the poorest parts of the world.
This situation troubles me a great deal. Here we are, the strongest nation on Earth, and we are rightfully appropriating funds to maintain that strength. But with enormous strength comes a moral obligation to respond appropriately to pain and suffering. This bill fails to respond appropriately.
When the supplemental was first considered in this body, Senator DeWine and I and others offered an amendment to provide a total of $470 million for PL-480 food aid. That may sound like a lot to some, but it totaled merely six-tenths of 1 percent of the total spending in the bill.
Mr. President, $346 million of our amendment was intended to meet the U.S. share of world-wide food emergency needs as already identified by the U.S. Government. Another $12 million was slated to restore Food for Peace resources diverted to address the tsunami. Finally, $112 million was intended to restore food aid development projects that the United States has already pledged to other countries this year.
It troubles me, and it should trouble everyone here, that we may not be able to deliver on those pledges. What a disturbing message that sends to the rest of the world. It says that while we may talk a good game on food aid, you cannot be too sure just where we stand when the going gets tough.
The numbers in our amendment were not pulled out of thin air. They were the result of close analysis of the world situation. In light of new reports from Ethiopia, I worry that even the amounts included in our original amendment may have been, in fact, too conservative.
Sadly, the conference reduced the food aid total to $240 million, a level that is well below a split with the level proposed by the administration and adopted by the House.
I ask unanimous consent that an alert I received from several faith-based organizations about the situation in Ethiopia be printed into the Record.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
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Mr. KOHL. This situation is not going to go away. I have grave fears that images coming out of places such as Ethiopia in the coming months may reveal a tragedy unfolding before our very eyes. And what is most troubling is that this may be a tragedy that we could have helped avoid.
I will soon be sending a letter to the President encouraging him to consider other emergency authorities to address this dire situation. Specifically, we will ask him to utilize the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust to address this pain and suffering. I urge all my colleagues to join us in sending this message to the President.