Verbatim, as delivered
September 17, 2008
Chairman Berman’s remarks H.R. 6911,
the Stabilization and Democracy for
Last week, this committee held a hearing on the
August conflict between
The “STAND for Georgia Act” helps answer that question by authorizing assistance to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the Georgian people in the wake of the crisis. By adopting this bill, Congress will express its solidarity with the Georgian people and its desire to help them rebuild their infrastructure.
I'd particularly like to thank the Ranking Member, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, whose assistance was essential to bringing this bill before the committee so quickly.
On September 3rd, President Bush announced a billion-dollar aid package. He pledged that 470 million dollars would be reprogrammed from unobligated money from Fiscal Year 2008. He also called for 530 million dollars to be included in Fiscal Year 2009 regular and supplemental appropriations.
The “STAND for Georgia Act” expresses support for the
full aid package. However, it only authorizes the expenditure of the
reprogrammed Fiscal Year 2008 funds. This ensures that nearly half of the
assistance pledged by the
When Congressman, Miller and I were in
I intend to address the remaining balance of this assistance package in the next Congress when we’re dealing with Fiscal Year 2009 authorization and appropriations – and will now take this opportunity to manifest the intent that in the next congress, assuming I am where I am, we will be dealing with a Fiscal Year 2009 authorization bill.
This congressional authorization, like the President’s aid package, responds to direct requests from the Georgian government for targeted aid.
First, it supplies humanitarian relief to individuals who were displaced during the conflict. This includes the provision of medical care and housing facilities, reconstruction of civilian and administrative infrastructure, and assistance to facilitate the return and resettlement of the many internally displaced persons.
Second, the bill authorizes the reconstruction of
critical infrastructure destroyed during the conflict. It includes direct
Third, the bill seeks to assist the Government of
Georgia in leading the country’s economic recovery. In particular, the bill
authorizes assistance to develop critical infrastructure that enhances
The “STAND for Georgia Act” also contains several
provisions that seek to strengthen the President’s proposed aid plan. By
passing this authorization bill, Congress has the opportunity to express its
views on additional priorities for the reconstruction of
First, the President’s package contains nothing to
encourage the accountability, inclusiveness and transparency of
We also seek to extend broadcasting efforts by the
Broadcasting Board of Governors, Radio Free Europe and Voice of America. The
The bill expresses the sense of Congress that any
money taken by the Administration from the Freedom Support Act and Support for
Eastern European Democracy accounts to fund Georgian reconstruction should be
replenished in next year’s appropriation. While drawing from these accounts may
be one of the most expeditious ways to get money to
Finally, I note that the ripple effects of this
crisis were clearly felt beyond
There is strong bipartisan backing for a robust
response to the economic and humanitarian crisis and for the delivery of
urgently needed aid to an ally. The
passage of this bill will demonstrate to the Georgian people that support. I urge my colleagues to support this
important measure, allowing the House to add its voice to those calling for a
peaceful resolution to the conflict and a prosperous future for