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Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2006

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. JACKSON of Illinois. Mr. Chairman, I want to start by saying that I support H.R. 3057, and intend to vote for it in its current form. I also want to recognize the majority and minority subcommittee staff for their dedicated and professional work in meeting the demands of all subcommittee members despite scarce resources.

However, in a forum such as this, I would be remiss if I did not raise the following issues that I have consistently raised over the last several years in every relevant hearing, mark-up and floor debate of this committee.

Yesterday, around the world, 15-20 thousand people died of extreme poverty. Today, around the world, 15-20 thousand people will die of extreme poverty. Tomorrow, around the world 15-20 thousand people will die of extreme poverty. Extreme poverty, like malnutrition and disease,--not conflict--are claiming these lives.

The Foreign Operations Appropriations bill has a real opportunity to turn around these numbers. Look at what has been done to date. Smallpox eradication begun in the 1960s. Control of river blindness in the 1970s. Increased child immunizations in the 1980s. Initiatives to fight Guinea worm, trachoma and leprosy in the 1990s. And the effort to end polio in this decade. Measurable results produced with the dollars the Foreign Operations subcommittee provides.

But more can be done.

There is a phrase that former Labor-HHS Chairman Porter, a member of the Foreign Ops. subcommittee, was fond of saying, ``Noblesse oblige, the belief that the wealthy and privileged are obliged to help those less fortunate. In Luke, chapter 12, verse 48, Jesus simply says, ``To who much is given, much is expected.''

We are the wealthiest country in the world. We spend more money on our military than the entire world combined with the sole mission of protecting this country, its citizens and advancing U.S. interests.

We protect this country and advance U.S. interests by embracing the three Ds to a successful foreign policy: diplomacy, democracy and development. However, looking at all of FY 06 discretionary spending, I think we have been strongly emphasizing diplomacy and democracy and only given cursory treatment to development.

Providing significantly more resources to development would only further the dollars we spend on defense. Last year, Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby of the Defense Intelligence Agency said, ``a number of factors virtually assure a terrorist threat for years to come ..... Despite recent reforms, terrorist organizations draw from societies with poor or failing economies, ineffective governments and inadequate education systems.''

I don't want anyone to misunderstand me. Given the circumstances, this bill is a tremendous effort. Chairman KOLBE, Ranking Member LOWEY and the subcommittee staff have put forward a laudable product.

But more should be done.

I keep hearing members of this committee and the House leadership say that this is a tight budget year. This tight budget year was not created by immaculate conception. Congress voted to make it a tough budget year. Congress approved the budget resolution. Saying it is going to be a tough budget year is like a farmer saying he is going to have a bad harvest because he didn't plant any seeds. Mr. Chairman, when Congress approved the FY '06 budget resolution we didn't plant any seeds. The budget allocation given to this subcommittee is not a natural disaster like a drought. This disaster was of our making.

In Matthew chapter 6, verse 21 , Jesus said, ``For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.'' If this verse is true, what does it say about us, about Congress, about our government that we pass budget resolutions each year that spend almost $400 billion on defense, and hundreds of billions on all kinds of tax cuts for the most well off, yet we can't even match the President's request for international development. I have a masters in theology from the Chicago Theological Seminary and have read my bible from cover to cover, and nowhere does it say, ``only take care of the poor if it fits into your annual budget resolution.''

Noblesse oblige Mr. Chairman.

In 1984, referring to Marxist-ruled Ethiopia, President Ronald Reagan said, ``a hungry child knows no politics.'' I would also add that a hungry child doesn't know a 302(b) allocations from a point-of-order.'' All he knows is that he is hungry.

Again, I plan to support this bill.

But more needs to be done.


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