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Barbara L.
Democrat CA 13

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  • Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2013

    by Representative Barbara Lee

    Posted on 2013-12-12

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    LEE of California. Mr. Speaker, first let me thank Chairman Royce for his tremendous leadership, for his continued support, and for his true efforts to create bipartisan initiatives in the legislation coming out of the committee. I have served with him on the committee for many, many years, and it has always been consistent in terms of trying to reach a bipartisan agreement on these bills. So, again, I thank him very much.



    And, of course, to the gentleman from New York, Ranking Member Engel, thank you, again, for your leadership and for helping to craft a bill that we could get to the floor, which is a bill that I think will really put the United States on the right side of history as it relates to Haiti, and also for your focus on the Western Hemisphere.

    Let me also just thank all of the original cosponsors of the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2013, including Representatives Yvette Clarke, Frederica Wilson, Maxine Waters, John Conyers, Charlie Rangel, Gregory Meeks, Karen Bass, and, of course, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. I want to thank my colleague Sheila Jackson Lee for staying strong and steady and supporting this legislation. And I thank them also for their tireless work and longstanding commitment to the well-being of Haitians and the country of Haiti.

    [[Page H8052]] Nearly 4 years ago, I stood as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and led a Special Order, recognizing the importance of our relationship with Haiti. A short time later, I led a delegation to Haiti where we witnessed the destruction and devastation firsthand.

    The Congressional Black Caucus has a long history of working with the Haitian people and the Haitian American community on a variety of issues.

    {time} 1615 We share a close and longstanding relationship. This has continued under the magnificent leadership of our current chair, Chairwoman Marcia Fudge.

    On January 12, 2010, a devastating 7.0 earthquake struck near Haiti's capital. This terrible earthquake killed hundreds of thousands and left 1 million more homeless.

    Our government, the American people, and the international community responded with a tremendous outpouring of support for the Haitian people. However, what began as a swift and effective relief effort gave way to a sluggish reconstruction.

    A report by the Government Accountability Office, also cited by Chairman Royce, found that USAID has missed a number of its own goals and deadlines. Most importantly the GAO found that as of June, 2013, USAID had committed only 52 percent, and disbursed 35 percent, of the $651 million in funding for earthquake reconstruction.

    That is why passing the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2013 is so important. With so much money yet to be disbursed, we have an opportunity to ensure that our assistance is as effective as possible.

    My bill helps us understand where our aid efforts stand, where they are going, and how USAID plans to get there. It would require the State Department to report on the progress of infrastructure projects, indicators used to measure project success, efforts to combat corruption, measures taken to strengthen Haitian capacity, and considerations of vulnerable populations.

    My bill would give us the information we need to make those assessments and help get the reconstruction on track.

    No one is saying that this will be easy. The road to recovery is a long one, and this legislation is but one small step.

    We must also keep in mind that USAID cannot fix the problem on its own. I commend the agency for the work it does around the world and encourage it to continue to address the challenges it faces in Haiti.

    Haitian citizens and their government, along with nongovernmental and intergovernmental organizations, must do their part. The Haitian Government will need to hold free, fair, and timely elections. I commend them for the steps they have already taken this week to hold long overdue elections next year.

    The United Nations will also need to vigorously address the cholera epidemic. There is no question that in October 2010, after nearly a century of not having cases of cholera in the country, it was introduced by U.N. peacekeepers.

    As I said before, I am very proud today that we are voting to increase the transparency and accountability of U.S. assistance to Haiti on a bipartisan basis. I strongly urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation, and I look forward to continuing to work with them to ensure that Haiti is truly built back better and that the Haitian people once and for all have a future--and that future will be ensured by the support of the American people.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentlewoman has expired.

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