Washington, DC – Howard L. Berman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, today released the following statement about the Administration’s intention to redirect more than $200 million to upgrade Pakistan’s F-16 combat aircraft that had already been appropriated to support counterterrorism:
“The FY 08 State and Foreign Operations bill that passed Congress last December specifically required that military aid to Pakistan be used for counterterrorism and law enforcement activities directed against al Qaeda and the Taliban. We are concerned that the Administration’s proposal to use military assistance to pay for the F-16 upgrades will divert funds from more effective counterterrorism tools like helicopters, TOW missiles, and night-vision goggles. We have requested a hold on the Administration’s planned reprogramming pending additional information. The hold also will remove tomorrow’s deadline and provide time for Congress to make a more considered judgment in consultation with the Administration and the Government of Pakistan.
“However, we understand that Pakistan is facing considerable economic challenges and is in a budgetary crisis. We are committed to helping Pakistan’s new democratic government address the current economic crisis, brought on by rising food and fuel prices, which has impacted its ability to fund its F16 upgrades. We are proposing that Congress provide $200 million in economic assistance to the government to relieve some of Pakistan’s budgetary constraints. This will help Pakistan set its own spending priorities while preserving US military aid for its intended purpose – counterterrorism activities against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.”