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Tropical Forest Conservation Act Reauthorization

Location: Washington, DC

TROPICAL FOREST CONSERVATION ACT REAUTHORIZATION -- (House of Representatives - September 07, 2004)

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 4654) to reauthorize the Tropical Forest Conservation Act of 1998 through fiscal year 2007, and for other purposes.



Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on H.R. 4654, the bill under consideration.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentlewoman from Florida?

There was no objection.

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
This bill reauthorizes the Tropical Forest Conservation Act of 1998, TFCA, through fiscal year 2007. The current authorization for this important program expires at the end of fiscal year 2004. H.R. 4654 authorizes appropriations for debt reduction for eligible countries through fiscal year 2007 at $20 million in fiscal year 2005, the President's budget request; at $25 million in fiscal year 2006; and $30 million in fiscal year 2007.

The bill adds a new section to the underlying statute which authorizes the use of funds for audits and evaluations of this program. In addition, the bill allows for TFCA debt reduction agreements to redirect reduced principal payments for forest conservation activities. Current law allows only the redirection of reduced interest payment into forest conservation funds.

Ensuring fiscal and programmatic accountability requires the ability to contract for independent audits. While it is the intent of H.R. 4654 to maximize the amount of funds going to new TFCA agreements, a modest authorization level is provided as a good management procedure to ensure that some audits be undertaken each year.

The $200,000 authorized by the bill to be made available to carry out audits and evaluations of programs is not intended as a limit on expenditures for these important functions.

The bill would allow principal on debt incurred before January 1, 1998, to be eligible for treatment under the straight debt reduction option. Currently, only interest can be treated. The benefit of also treating principal in this matter is that the U.S. Government can generate more funds for forest conservation.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 6 minutes to the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Portman), the prime sponsor and the author of this bill.


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