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- As Delivered - 


WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following statement at the full Committee markup of the African Growth and Opportunity Act Enhancement Act of 2015 (H.R. 2845), the Global Health Innovation Act of 2015 (H.R. 2241), the First Responders Passport Act of 2015 (H.R. 3750), and the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 3766):


“Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling up these bipartisan measures.  It’s good, as always, to see our Committee working together to advance legislation and getting it to the House floor.


“Let me begin with Chairman Royce’s measure—the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act Enhancement Act of 2015.  Earlier this year, Congress authorized the African Growth and Opportunity Act through 2025.  That bill seeks to promote trade between Africa and the United States.  But, it’s become clear that a number of eligible countries lack sufficient capacity to reap the program’s benefits.


“H.R. 2845—which I am proud to cosponsor along with Rep. Bass and Rep. Smith—would encourage the United States to work with sub-Saharan African governments to improve the rule of law, strengthen and expand the private sector, reduce bureaucratic barriers to trade, and promote the role of women on the continent.


“In short, this bill seeks to improve investment, trade, and job growth in the region.  This in turn would strengthen the global economy and encourage development in sub-Saharan Africa—two priorities for this Committee.


“Let me next thank my friend Albio Sires for introducing H.R. 2241, the Global Health Innovation Act of 2015.  The Ebola epidemic and other public health crises remind us that there is a vital need for the United States to maintain our research and development efforts and response capabilities in the health field.


“Over the years, USAID has made some major advances in health research and development.  We’ve seen that through innovative programs such as the Malaria Vaccine Development Program.   And successive administrations have rightly supported a significant expansion of those efforts. 


“H.R. 2241 directs USAID to report annually to Congress on its new programs, projects, and activities related to global health.   It’s important that the agency continues to focus on innovation.  And it’s important for Congress to make sure that the resources it receives are spent in the most effective way possible.


“Next, I’d like to thank Rep. Issa for introducing H.R. 3750.  And I’m proud to be a cosponsor of this measure.  This bill would authorize the Secretary of State to waive passport fees for the brave Americans who help other countries in times of natural disaster.


“USAID Search and Rescue teams—based in Fairfax County, Virginia, Miami-Dade County, Florida, and Los Angeles County in California—have played an essential role in the aftermath of many overseas natural disasters, including earthquakes that have struck Nepal, Haiti, Japan, and New Zealand.  These teams provide specialized capabilities, and demonstrate our commitment to international partners during times of need.


“We need to be ready to respond.  And waiving passport fees is the least we can do for Americans who risk life and limb to help other countries during times of despair.  The State Department and USAID support this measure, and I urge my colleagues to do so as well.


“And finally, let me thank Congressman Poe for introducing the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act, along with Congressman Connolly for his hard work on this measure.


“The State Department, under Secretary Hillary Clinton, and USAID, under the leadership of Raj Shah, took major steps to improve monitoring, evaluation, and transparency in our foreign assistance programs.  These improvements include the first-ever Presidential Policy Directive on Development and the Foreign Assistance Dashboard—an initiative that collects information from across the federal government, increasing transparency in foreign assistance programs.


“This legislation seeks to double down on these groundbreaking efforts to help the government and the American people better understand how their development investments improve lives around the world. 


“So again, Mr. Chairman, thank you for your work—as usual—to move forward with these bills and on all these subjects.   And as always, thank you for working with us in a bipartisan manner.  I yield back.”