WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks at a full committee markup of four measures:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much for calling this markup. We have four good measures before us today. I’m happy to support them all. And as always, I want to thank all our members on both sides of the aisle for their hard work.
Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for putting forward the Export Control Reform Act.
As you mentioned, it’s been almost four decades since the law on export controls was revised. The old law is filled with out-of-date provisions that simply don’t reflect our current national security priorities. It also expired in 2001. So, for the last 17 years, the legal authority for regulating sensitive exports has been based on emergency authority contained in executive orders.
That’s why this bill is so essential. It updates the export control system to reflect today’s reality of the way these technologies are developed and transferred in global trade.
It provides a new approach to help mitigate the risks of sensitive technologies falling into the hands of our adversaries. And it reasserts the role of Congress in addressing the important national security priority.
I am proud to be the lead Democratic cosponsor of this legislation, and I urge all members to support it.
Next, I want to turn to the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act. This is another great example of bipartisan, commonsense cooperation on vital foreign policy issues. I am an original cosponsor and am pleased to see this bill on the agenda.
Nearly 800 million people around the world live without the certainty that their families will have enough to eat. Underfed populations are less productive and more vulnerable to disease. Without reliable access to food, it is much harder for a country to achieve stability and prosperity. So, we have an interest—and a moral obligation— in tackling this problem as part of our foreign policy.
This bill reauthorizes the successful Global Food Security Act, which codified the Feed the Future Program.
We are already seeing some excellent results from this program – A 26% drop in child stunting, 9 million more people are above the poverty line, 1.7 million more families are living without hunger, and $2.6 billion earned by Feed the Future farmers in new agricultural sales.
This is a great bill and I thank the drafters, Representatives Chris Smith and Betty McCollum for their hard work and encourage all my colleagues to support it.
Fighting global poverty is a critical issue that our Committee faces. And one of the most effective ways we can improve global prosperity is to empower women throughout the world.
That brings me to the next measure for today’s markup, the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act. This is a very important piece of legislation, introduced by Chairman Royce and Congresswoman Frankel. It expands U.S. development policy to empower women entrepreneurs in developing countries.
Women and girls are powerful, and we know what happens when that power and potential are unleashed. Communities thrive. Local and global economies grow. Societies prosper and become more inclusive and equitable. If women were full participants in the global economy, we would see an additional $28 trillion in growth in global GDP by the year 2025.
Women in developing countries face a series of gender-specific constraints to moving up the economic ladder, including lack of access to financial services.
Women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises face almost a $300 billion credit gap. The Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act works to address that disparity by expanding US development assistance to reach those small and medium-sized enterprises.
This bill is a welcome step towards improving women’s economic prospects. But there remain other barriers to women’s economic empowerment, including issues related to maternal and reproductive health.
There is a well-documented link between improved access to contraception and women’s economic empowerment. Women who are able to plan their families are more likely to receive an education, raise their standards of living, and climb out of poverty. These benefits aren’t limited to a woman herself: in homes where parents have the ability to decide the number of children they have, their children tend to be healthier, do better in school, and grow up to earn higher incomes.
I am pleased to be an original cosponsor of this bill, and I urge all of our members to join me in supporting it and I hope that we can build upon the good work and address ALL the barriers that women and girls face so that they can achieve full economic empowerment.
And lastly, I turn to the Global Electoral Exchange Act, introduced by Representatives Castro and Meadows, which would establish exchange programs at the State Department that focus on strengthening electoral mechanisms around the world.
It is in America’s interest that we promote credible elections, and having exchange programs to share best election practices is an excellent idea. We should be doing all that we can be doing to promote democracy.
I support this bill, along with the other measures we’re considering today. I again thank all our members on both sides. And I yield back, Mr. Chairman, thank you.
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