Washington, DC – Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement upon passage this evening of the supplemental appropriations bill, which included $10.1 billion for international affairs programs:

“I'm glad this bill includes additional funding address the global food security crisis. This critical assistance will help ease the short-term food emergencies facing many developing countries; it also provides much-needed support for agricultural development programs that have seen devastating cuts over the past two decades.

“The legislation also includes life-saving aid to refugees and internally displaced persons who have fled the conflicts in Iraq and Darfur. By granting $475 million more than the Administration asked of us, Congress has done much to respond to the dire needs of people caught up in these crises -- and we must continue to do so.

“Congress has also come to agreement on supporting the first year of the Merida Initiative to combat the narcotics trade and the violence that it spawns. Last week, when the House authorized the Merida Initiative for three years, we stressed that we were embarking on a joint effort with our Mexican and Central American neighbors to confront the scourge of illegal drugs and drug-related violence. Both the $465 million appropriated in the supplemental bill and the language that accompanies that funding reflect that we are in this effort together with our southern neighbors.”

The supplemental appropriations legislation, H.R. 2642, provides $1.864 billion for international food and disaster assistance, $696 million for refugee assistance, and $465 million to fund the first year of the Merida Initiative.