Sep 07 2017
Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) applauded the Senate Appropriations Committee’s passage of an annual appropriations bill to strengthen America’s diplomacy and international development efforts. The Fiscal Year 2018 State Department, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) appropriations bill now heads to the Senate floor for further consideration.
“With the United States facing emerging threats from North Korea and Iran, intensifying rivalry with Russia and China, and persisting dangers from ISIS and other terrorists, I commend the Committee’s bipartisan efforts to craft an appropriations bill that supports strong American diplomacy and international development,” said Rubio. “This legislation advances America’s national security interests and values internationally. Our nation’s investments in international security and human dignity today will help make Americans safer and more prosperous in the future.”
Highlights of Rubio priorities in the FY2018 SFOPS bill include:
· Cuba: $15 million for programs to promote democracy and human rights in the island nation following President Trump’s June 2017 announcement of a new U.S. policy towards Cuba.
· Venezuela: $15 million for programs to promote democracy and human rights in Venezuela amid the Maduro regime’s efforts to destroy the nation’s democratic institutions.
· Central America: $600 million to support U.S. engagement in Central America, including anti-corruption, judicial reform, development, counternarcotic and combating illicit trafficking.
· International Drug Reduction: $12.5 million to support Demand Reduction programs that address the overlapping issues of drug abuse, gang membership, violence, and criminal activity in Latin America and other regions that directly impact cities and communities in the United States.
· Israel: $3.1 billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to improve the Jewish State of Israel’s ability to defend itself against Iran’s growing nuclear and missile threats, as well as Hezbollah, Hamas, and other foreign terrorist organizations.
· Taylor Force Act: Includes amended version of the Rubio-cosponsored legislation, which would block U.S. foreign assistance to the Palestinian Authority until it ends “pay-to-slay” payments to terrorists who engage in terrorism or violence against Israelis or Americans, or payments to the families of terrorists.
· Iran/Syria: Prohibits any funds in this Act from being used for projects or activities that support or otherwise legitimize the Iranian regime, any Iranian proxy, or any foreign terrorist organization.
Human Rights and Democracy Promotion
· Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy: Requirement for the Secretary of State to report to Congress on persons responsible for the surveillance, abduction, detention, or forced confessions of certain booksellers and journalists in Hong Kong.
· Tibet: $17 million to support Tibetan communities in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, the People’s Republic of China, India, and Nepal, and to support the Office of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues.
· Radio Free Asia (RFA): $43.7 million to support RFA’s efforts to promote democracy and freedom in repressive and restrictive environments, including China, Tibet, North Korea, and Vietnam.
· Global Internet Freedom: $34.5 million to support international Internet freedom and firewall circumvention efforts by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).
· Combating Modern Slavery: $25 million for International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) programs to combat human trafficking and modern slavery.
· National Endowment for Democracy (NED): $170 million to support the National Endowment for Democracy, a private and nonprofit foundation dedicated to growing and strengthening democratic institutions around the world.
· Office of Global Women’s Issues: Shaheen-Rubio amendment codifies the State Department’s Office of Global Women Issues, to be headed by an Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues. This office coordinates U.S. diplomatic efforts involving issues related to women and girls, including access to education, economic empowerment, and ending violence against women.
· HIV/AIDS Relief: $6 billion to support President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and related HIV/AIDS relief programs; $1.4 billion to support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria
· Vaccines: $290 million to support the GAVI Alliance to expand access to vaccines.
· Polio Eradication: $59 million to support polio eradication efforts