House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), Chairman

May 23, 2007

Contact: Lynne Weil, 202-225-5021

Washington, DC – The House Committee on Foreign Affairs today overwhelmingly approved additional funding for development, economic and security assistance programs in Afghanistan for the next three years and establishment of a coordinator to tackle the growing threat of narcotics.

The committee passed the Afghanistan Freedom and Security Support Act (H.R. 2446), co-sponsored by Chairman Tom Lantos (D-CA) and ranking member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). The bill renews a 2002 Afghanistan authorization and provides additional support for programs as diverse as assistance to women and girls, energy development and counter-narcotics. It authorizes $6.435 billion for fiscal years 2008 through 2010, of which $2.145 billion is authorized to be spent in fiscal year 2008.

The bill requires the President to set out an enhanced strategy with specific and measurable reconstruction, counter-narcotics and security goals for Afghanistan. It also requires the Administration to submit a report to Congress describing a large range of political, economic, development, security, and counter-narcotics performance goals and progress. The bill also mandates a cutoff of U.S. assistance to local or provincial governments where there is credible evidence that officials have links to terrorist activities or the drug trade.

The legislation also requires the Presidential appointment of a coordinator with authority to work across all U.S. government departments and agencies to implement a counter-narcotics strategy. The legislation paves the way for Pentagon assistance to counter-narcotics programs in Afghanistan operated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and emphasizes the importance of targeting “sensitive sites” which harbor major drug kingpins and narcotics processing labs.

“Nearly five years since the 9-11 attacks, and the subsequent ouster of the Taliban and al-Qaeda from power, the country runs a real risk of falling into the hands of the Taliban again,” Lantos said. “We cannot – and will not – let this happen. We have come too far in our efforts in Afghanistan simply to stop cold now. The United States has pledged its commitment to Afghanistan’s long-term stability and security. This bill is essential, urgent, and – most importantly – represents a fulfillment of that promise.”

Ros-Lehtinen emphasized the need to develop a workable counter-narcotics strategy. “An effective strategy to tackle the deadly drug trade and its links to radical Islamic terrorism is long overdue. A mandate for appointment of a high level inter-departmental Afghan coordinator with an emphasis on interdiction, and extradition of major drug kingpins is our best strategy to undercut the terrorists who finance their deadly attacks on coalition troops with drug profits.”