News

US House of Representatives Considers Foreign Assistance Bill

The House of Representatives is considering a $34-billion measure for U.S. international assistance programs and other foreign affairs priorities. VOA's Dan Robinson reports from Capitol Hill.

Known as the foreign operations bill, the measure contains money for a range of global priorities, from AIDS treatment and prevention, and assistance to Darfur to peacekeeping and democracy-building.

Likely to be approved on Thursday, it provides just over $5 billion for the president's HIV/AIDS prevention treatment and care program, along with $550 million for the Global Fund for grants to help prevent AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and hundreds of millions for child survival and health.

More than $6 billion goes for efforts to strengthen the worldwide public health infrastructure, $750 million for grants to organizations supporting basic education programs and $300 million for safe water programs.

The measure also continues the strong commitment of Congress to assisting refugees and displaced people in Sudan's violence-torn Darfur region.

Lawmakers provide about $950 million for Sudan, including $210 million for humanitarian and peacekeeping in Darfur, $100 million above the figure requested by President Bush, with other funds aimed at economic development and democracy-building in Southern Sudan.

In providing $1.3 billion for United Nations peacekeeping missions, the measure funds U.S. contributions for operations in Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Haiti, East Timor, the Middle East and Kosovo.

Among the priorities is $100 million for what is called critical support of the African Union force in Darfur.

Among specific aid programs, House lawmakers are giving the government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe just over $530 million, a reduction of $86 million and $59 million below President Bush's request.

Democrat Jim McGovern says this is part of a reordering of priorities for U.S. assistance placing more emphasis on economic development and administration of justice, along with drug interdiction and security aid.

"The 2008 bill re-balances our priorities in Colombia," said Jim McGovern. "It recognizes that the response to violence, narco-trafficking and instability in our South American neighbor must be multi-faceted, helping to guarantee lasting security through good governance.

In other bilateral assistance, lawmakers withhold $200 million in foreign military financing for Egypt, until the Secretary of State certifies the Egyptian government is moving to address human rights concerns through judicial reforms, and training of police, and addresses concerns about the smuggling of weapons from Egypt to Gaza.

In a disappointment for President Bush, lawmakers make a significant cut in the Millennium Challenge Corporation which helps countries showing progress in political and economic reforms.

The legislation, which must also be approved by the Senate, also contains money for U.S. government-funded international broadcasting, including Voice of America.

In providing about $32 million more than 2007 levels for broadcasting, and $14 million above the president's original request, lawmakers provide funding to roll back proposed cuts to specific language programs.

VOA English, which has been slated for elimination, is described as making an essential contribution to U.S. public diplomacy, and especially important since it provides accurate, objective and comprehensive news to a potential English-speaking audience of 1.6 billion people worldwide.

Lawmakers also recommend full restoration for VOA broadcasts in Albanian, Bosnian, Croatian, Greek, Macedonian, Serbian, Ukrainian, Georgian, Uzbek, Hindi, Cantonese, Thai and Tibetan.

Similar recommendations are made regarding proposed cuts in Tibetan and Cantonese at Radio Free Asia, along with five European language services of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

The legislation also funds increased broadcasting to North Korea in accordance with the North Korea Human Rights Act approved by Congress in 2004.

Lawmakers are withholding funds to enhance the U.S. funded Al-hurra Arabic language television for the Middle East, in the wake of controversy over programming it aired, including anti-American and anti-Israel statements by Hezbollah and Hamas leaders.

That controversy led to the recent resignation of the station's top official in charge of news, and Congress is awaiting reports from the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the State Department Inspector General on management and other changes.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs