Washington, D.C. – Today, H.R. 3509, the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2013, passed unanimously in the House of Representatives.
Rep. Eliot L. Engel, the senior Democratic member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, gave the following remarks on the House floor.
“Mr.Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 3509, the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2013, and yield myself as much time as I may consume.”
“I’d like to begin by thanking my friend and colleague, the gentlelady from California, Barbara Lee, for introducing this important legislation. The Haitian people are lucky to have a friend with her vision and tenacity.”
“It is difficult to overstate the devastation wrought by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti that gave rise to the multinational assistance effort: 316,000 people dead, including 103 United States citizens, 101 United Nations personnel, and nearly 18 percent of the nation's civil service; as well as 300,000 injured, 115,000 homes destroyed, and 2,000,000 people displaced. An estimated 15 percent of the population was directly affected by the disaster and related damages.”
“I traveled to Port Au Prince shortly after the quake and I can attest to the fact that even these horrific statistics do not fully describe the waste and destruction I saw. The United States quickly responded to the devastation in Haiti– and responded robustly. In fact, the post-earthquake assistance program remains today among our most important foreign assistance commitments worldwide.”
“Which brings me to the bipartisan legislation before us: H.R. 3509 should be understood as the culminating step in the ongoing oversight work of the Foreign Affairs Committee regarding that assistance plan. A multi-year and multi-billion dollar commitment, reflecting the compassion and generosity of the American people, calls for ongoing vigilance --- both in terms of accountability as well as policy direction.”
“Our Committee commissioned a GAO report on that assistance, which found, among other things, that the administration was not providing sufficient information to the Congress to fulfill its oversight role. We also sent a bipartisan staff delegation to look into specific problems GAO found, and held a full committee hearing on the matter.”
“H.R. 3509 is the logical next step. It seeks to fill the information gap by requiring the State Department to report on various aspects of our assistance program. It also includes a Statement of Policy that articulates the direction we think that assistance program should take. I believe H.R. 3509 goes a significant way to achieve that goal.”
“As I seem to do frequently in our Committee and on the floor these days, I’d like to once again thank Chairman Royce and his staff for working in a truly bipartisan manner on this bill. It is genuinely appreciated by me and all of my Democratic colleagues on our Committee. I urge my colleagues to support this bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.”