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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 2634, Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and Expanded Debt Cancellation of 2008

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Providing for Consideration of H.R. 2634, Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and Expanded Debt Cancellation of 2008


Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Madam Speaker, I am pleased that we appear to have a very broad consensus in favor of this. My friend from Texas is right. There is no one single answer to the problems of poverty. But I am pleased that we have agreement that this is an important part of it.

We have some history here that argues for this bill. In the year, I think it was 2000, we in this House passed a bill on the floor over some objection from the administration at the time, the Clinton administration, and from some of the House leadership. But we passed a bill to begin the process known as the HIPC, the heavily indebted poor country debt relief, and it has worked very well. And for those who think that these enterprises are doomed to failure, we can point to many successes in HIPC. And we did this in a way so that countries that had not lived up to what should have been their part of the bargain didn't get the benefit.

The time has now come to do this again. And if this is done right, relieving countries of debt--debt that was often incurred by prior undemocratic and repressive regimes, and they will be primarily African but not entirely--relieving these countries of debt does as much to promote education and reduce poverty as anything else we can do.

I think it is particularly noteworthy on this day when His Holiness the Pope is in our city that we received a letter from the Most Reverend Thomas G. Wenski, the Bishop of Orlando, who is chairman of the Committee on International Policy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He strongly supports the bill, and I ask that that be introduced into the Record now, along with a letter from the Jubilee Coalition, the Jubilee Network, many religious and civic organizations, and the NAACP.


Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. We have said that from the standpoint of the U.S., in order to be eligible for our help, they will have to cooperate with us against human trafficking, against terrorism and against illegal immigration. Those are the kind of conditions that is appropriate to impose.

Finally, we should note that this bill obviously does not, as it cannot itself, accomplish debt relief. It is a mandate to the United States executive branch to begin negotiations. And these negotiations must be multilateral, because we do not want to see America give debt relief when other countries don't do it and that nullifies the effect. And we also want to press the international financial institutions to do it using our influence there.

Today, we take a step widely hailed by particularly those who are concerned with the alleviation of poverty in other parts of the world. We take the step that does more than any other single step to reach that goal.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman from Massachusetts has again expired.

Mr. WELCH of Vermont. I yield the gentleman an additional 30 seconds.

Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. We have had a problem in the world of economic growth occurring in ways that shut out a great majority of the people in various countries from the benefit. We need a coordinated strategy so that we can have growth, but we can have growth in an equitable way. Debt relief is an essential part of that overall strategy.

I thank the gentleman.


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