Commemorating the Four Year Anniversary of the Catastrophic Earthquake in Haitiby Representative Eliot L. Engel
Posted on 2014-01-13
of new york
in the house of representatives
Monday, January 13, 2014
Mr. ENGEL. Mr. Speaker, yesterday, January 12, 2014, at 4:53 p.m.
marked the fourth anniversary of the catastrophic earthquake that
rocked the island nation of Haiti, the poorest country in our
hemisphere. Though much has been written about it, it is difficult to
describe the devastation left by the quake. I travelled to Haiti soon
after it struck and can scarcely describe it myself. Casualties
numbered in the hundreds of thousands, and an even greater number of
dwellings were destroyed. Haiti's already poor infrastructure was
The international community did respond, with the U.S. leading the charge. Our initial disaster relief was nothing short of heroic, and prevented significant further harm in the days and weeks following . Relief eventually gave way to recovery and then reconstruction. Four years out, the U.S. remains heavily involved and engaged in the process of building Haiti back better.
The Foreign Affairs Committee, where I am ranking member, has been active in this process. We commissioned a GAO report to give us an assessment on U.S. assistance, which found, among other things, that the administration was not providing sufficient information to the Congress to fulfill its oversight role. We then sent a bipartisan staff delegation to look into specific problems GAO found, and soon after held a full committee hearing on the matter.
Capping that oversight process, this past December the House overwhelmingly agreed to bipartisan legislation to address some of these issues, and sent the bill to the Senate. The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2013 is authored by a recognized champion advocating on behalf of the people of Haiti, Barbara Lee of California. It enjoys strong bipartisan support, such as from Foreign Affairs Chairman Royce. It seeks to fill the information gap by requiring the State Department to report on various aspects of our assistance program, and includes a Statement of Policy that articulates the direction we believe that assistance program should take.
The reality is that a multi-year and multi-billion dollar commitment, borne of the generosity of the American people, calls for ongoing vigilance --- both in terms of accountability as well as policy direction, and I believe H.R. 3509 goes a significant way to achieve that goal.
I intend to work with my colleagues in the Senate to see that this legislation becomes law in the next few months. I believe the Haitian people, who have endured more than their fair share of misery at the hands of this horrific natural disaster, deserve nothing less.