I rise in strong support of the bill. The United States has an enormous stake in the security and stability of Pakistan. We can't allow al Qaeda or any other terrorist group that threatens our national security interests to operate with impunity in the tribal regions or any other part of Pakistan, nor can we permit the Pakistani state and its nuclear arsenal to be taken over by the Taliban.
To help prevent this nightmare scenario, we need to forge a true strategic partnership with Pakistan and its people, strengthen Pakistan's democratic government, and work to make Pakistan a source of stability in a volatile region.
I'm pleased to bring to the floor S. 1707, the Enhanced Partnership With Pakistan Act of 2009, a bicameral, bipartisan compromise between H.R. 1886 and the original Senate version of this legislation. As in the House bill we passed in June, S. 1707 provides funding to strengthen the capacity of Pakistan's democratic institutions, including its Parliament, judicial system and law enforcement agencies. It calls for increased assistance to Pakistan's public education system with an emphasis on access for women and girls.
S. 1707 also provides critical security assistance to help the Government of Pakistan in its fight against the extremists that threaten the national security of both Pakistan and the United States. Finally, the compromise text requires that beginning in fiscal year 2011, military assistance may only be provided to Pakistan if the President determines that the Government of Pakistan is continuing to cooperate with the United States in preventing a proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and has both demonstrated a sustained commitment to combating terrorist groups and has made significant efforts towards that end.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to quote from the letter from Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen in reference to this legislation. This is a letter sent last Friday: ``This bill would support U.S. national security interests in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Department of Defense strongly supports moving this bill to final passage by the House and Senate as expeditiously as possible.'' Or as Secretary Clinton said just yesterday, this bill ``will be an essential tool in support of our national security interests.''
I want to congratulate Senators Kerry and Lugar, the sponsors of this bill, for their hard work and determination in passing it. And I thank them for the open and cooperative spirit that they and their staff showed in crafting this bicameral, bipartisan compromise. I also want to thank my good friend from Illinois (Mr. Kirk) and my good friend from my home State of California (Mr. Royce) for their support in crafting this legislation and supporting the compromise. I particularly want to thank the ranking member of the committee, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, for her contributions and her help in reaching this point in passing this legislation.
Following is an explanation of the S. 1707, the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009. The text reflects an agreement reached by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on the text of S. 962, based on the text contained in the bill as passed by the Senate, and the text of H.R. 1886, as contained in titles I to III of Division B of H.R. 2410 and passed by the House of Representatives.
S. 1707, the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, establishes a legislative foundation for a sustained partnership between the United States and Pakistan, based on a shared commitment to strengthening democracy and the rule of law, improving the living conditions of the people of Pakistan through sustainable economic development, and combating terrorism and violent extremism. S. 962 seeks to transform the relationship between the United States and Pakistan into a deeper, broader, long-term strategic engagement. The legislation aims to properly balance the relationship between United States and Pakistan by acknowledging and supporting the national security interests of the United States as well as Pakistan's economic and geopolitical interests. United States assistance for Pakistan enhances our mutual security while helping to build economic and political stability in a country that is both regionally and strategically important. Economic assistance is as critical an element to stabilizing Pakistan as strengthening the capacity of the Pakistan military to counter terrorism, especially for projects that provide direct and concrete benefit to Pakistani citizens as a whole. The overall level of economic assistance authorized would be raised substantially by this legislation, with the bulk of this aid intended for projects such as schools, roads, medical clinics, and infrastructure development.