Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives tonight passed H.R. 6018, the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership Act of 2018, which improves coordination of U.S. programs in North and West Africa that fight terrorism.

On the House floor prior to the vote, Chairman Ed Royce delivered the following remarks (as prepared for delivery):

“I rise in support of H.R. 6018, the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership Act. I want to thank my colleagues, Chairman McCaul and Ranking Member Keating, for their bipartisan leadership to advance this important measure.

Mr. Speaker, as you know, Boko Haram, ISIS West Africa, ISIS in the Greater Sahara, Al Qaeda affiliates, and other armed groups continue to wreak havoc across the Sahel and Maghreb regions of Africa. Thousands of civilians – including countless women and children – have died at the hands of these terrorist organizations.

In response to these threats, the U.S. has deployed over 1,000 troops in the region. But the diverse and increasingly pressing security threats across Africa demand more than just a military response.

Realizing this, in 2005, the U.S. established the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership – known as the TSCTP program – to bring together the Department of State, Department of Defense and the U.S. Agency for International Development to coordinate and streamline U.S. and partner nations’ efforts to combat terrorism and prevent the spread of violent extremism in north and west Africa.

This program rightly recognizes that we must build the capacity of countries so that they can themselves detect and defeat terrorists within their own countries. This is a long-term approach that can produce high returns with relatively low investment. We are investing in the future security of partner nations.

But TSCTP is not just about security assistance. Strengthening democratic institutions of partner nations to ensure responsive, democratic governance and rule of law is also a key part of our program. Often, our efforts help bring government officials around the table with local communities – including women’s groups and civil society – to increase dialogue on peace and security. Having women at the table not only makes peace agreements more likely – but also makes peace agreements last longer.

This region is home to some of the poorest countries of the world and the humanitarian and development needs are immense. High youth unemployment, food insecurity, low education and severe lack of government services together create an environment ripe for terrorist recruitment. To improve these underlying conditions, USAID is supporting vulnerable populations through livelihood training, access to health resources and agricultural development.

TSCTP coordinates our diplomatic, defense and development tools to counter these terrorist threats and help bring stability to this region. The bill we are considering today supports this program by establishing core objectives and benchmarks and strengthening congressional oversight so that it continues to be efficient, effective and timely.

I urge all my colleagues to support this important measure.”