Washington, DC – Howard L. Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today voiced strong support for President Obama’s plan to boost civilian assistance efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and for the President's overall international affairs budget request, which proposes long-overdue investments in diplomacy and development.

“For far too long, we have failed to provide adequate funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, the civilian national security and stabilization agencies that will be at the forefront of our efforts in Afghanistan. I applaud President Obama for proposing an international affairs budget that begins to reverse this damaging trend, and I will work with him to see that it is fully funded by the Congress. I also look forward to working with the Administration to advance its comprehensive strategy for the Afghanistan/Pakistan region.

“President Obama rightly noted that it will take a substantial increase in civilian assistance to ensure lasting stability in Afghanistan. As the President said, this civilian effort should not be short-changed; it is an investment that will pay dividends for years to come in greater security for the United States and the world.”

Berman plans to introduce legislation on Pakistan next week that will significantly increase funding for democracy programs, economic development, education, and strengthening Pakistan's civilian government. It will also ensure that all assistance provided to Pakistan, including military aid, is managed through civilian authorities of the Pakistani government. In addition, it will call for auditing, monitoring and evaluation of all of U.S. assistance to Pakistan.