AMEND FY2002 SUPPLEMENTAL SPENDING BILL: President Bush is asking Congress for an additional $27.1 billion for this year (FY2002) to expand the ongoing war on terrorism in Afghanistan, the U.S., and elsewhere around the globe. The supplemental spending request, now pending before the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, includes $14 billion in additional spending for the Pentagon, $1.6 billion for State Department activities related to the war on terrorism, $5.2 billion for homeland security, and a little over $6 billion for rebuilding New York City and for other purposes.
In addition to his request for additional funds, and just as troubling, the President is seeking to change the management of U.S. foreign aid in significant ways. As written, the bill would channel tens of millions of dollars in foreign aid through the Pentagon rather than the State Department. Little is know about to whom this aid would be given or under what conditions. The bill would remove or override current restrictions on military aid to countries with notoriously poor human rights records, such as Colombia and Indonesia.
The full House Appropriations Committee is expected to take up this bill by the end of April. The Senate Appropriations Committee may take up the bill as early as May 1. The President would like the bill to be passed before Memorial Day.
ACTION: Please contact your representative or senators, especially if they are members of the appropriations committees. As they consider the FY2002 supplemental appropriations bill, urge them to support amendments that would preserve existing human rights conditions governing the allocation and use of U.S. foreign military aid, keep the responsibility for administering U.S. foreign assistance within the State Department instead of the Pentagon, maintain current restrictions on U.S. military aid to Colombia, and preserve close congressional oversight over the use of U.S. foreign aid funds. These policies should not be changed without careful deliberation by the appropriate congressional oversight committees and full public debate.
BACKGROUND: The $27.1 billion FY2002 Supplemental Appropriations request, sent to Congress in March, is the next installment of the Bush administration's ongoing war on terror.
The spending priorities reflected in this plan are fundamentally flawed. Instead of doling out more military aid, the U.S. should invest more in programs and initiatives that directly address the political, social, and economic conditions that underlie the violence we are witnessing today.
The request would add $372,500,000 to the Foreign Military Financing program for equipment and training related to the war on terrorism. Nineteen countries are named as potential recipients: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Jordan, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen Uzbekistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Georgia, the Philippines, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Colombia, and Ecuador.
These funds would be administered by the Pentagon and could be distributed "notwithstanding any other provision of the law," meaning among other things that the aid would be free of the human rights conditions that Congress has imposed on programs financed through the State Department. According to the State Department's most recent Human Rights Report, the security forces of fourteen of these nineteen countries have been guilty of serious human rights violations during the past year.
The President's request would also lift the counter-narcotics restrictions on U.S. aid to Colombia. Currently, U.S. military and security assistance to Colombia may only be used for the Colombian military's counter-narcotics work. If this restriction is lifted, U.S. aid could be used for Colombia's war against the FARC guerrillas and other threats to its national security. The request would also eliminate the human rights conditions and restrictions on fumigation which currently govern the use of U.S. aid.