What: All Issues : War & Peace : US Intervention in Afghanistan and/or Pakistan : (H.R. 2410) On the Berman of California Amendment, which made a wide range of changes to the bill providing funding for foreign relations operations in the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years
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(H.R. 2410) On the Berman of California Amendment, which made a wide range of changes to the bill providing funding for foreign relations operations in the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years
house Roll Call 320     Jun 10, 2009
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Progressive

This was a vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Berman (D-CA), the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, to H.R. 2410, which provided funding for foreign relations operations in the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years. The amendment, among other things, authorized an Office of Global Women’s Issues in the State Department; the payment of all dues to the U.N.; a significant expansion of the Peace Corps, an increase in international broadcasting activities, a strengthening of the State Department arms control and nonproliferation bureaus; 1,000 new and strengthened diplomatic positions in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other strategic areas; 213 positions dedicated to improving training in Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, and Urdu; and additional arms control experts and counterterrorism specialists. It also reformed the U.S. system of export controls for military technology, and required a report to Congress on actions taken by the United States to maintain Israel's qualitative military edge over its enemies in the Middle East.

The Berman Amendment also assisted in the compensation for victims of terrorism from the 1998 Nairobi bombing, increased the funding for the State Department Inspector General and the National Endowment For Democracy, and established a system to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of U.S. foreign assistance.

The amendment included language to clarify that the establishment of an Office Global Women’s Issues in H.R. 2410 would do nothing to change the current prohibition on using funds in the bill to change “laws or policies in effect in any foreign country concerning the circumstances under which abortion is permitted, regulated, or prohibited.” He stated that “I believe this confirms that the bill does not undermine current law (regarding foreign abortion activities) in any way.”

Rep. Smith (R-NJ) expressed serious concern about the potential family planning activities that the new Office for Global Women's Issues, which was authorized in the bill, may engage in, and urged that the Congress explicitly limit its activities so that “it not become a war room at the Department of State for the promotion of abortion.” He argued that the Obama Administration was “aggressively seeking to topple pro-life laws in sovereign nations” and quoted recent testimony by Secretary of State Clinton that the administration “was entitled to advocate abortion anywhere in the world.”

Berman responded that “(N)o matter how many times the specter is raised, this (new) office cannot do and has no intention and no plans of doing anything to promote abortions, coerce abortions, fund abortions or lobby for an abortion policy. It is an office that is focused generally on the issues of women's political empowerment: should women have the right to vote, should they be able to run for office, are they treated as equal citizens under the law. It serves as a promoter of better education for women and girls and a series of (other ) causes . . . It is dedicated to ensuring that women around the world can realize their potential by fully participating in the political, economic and cultural lives of their societies..”

The amendment passed by a vote of 257-171. Two hundred and fifty Democrats and seven Republican voted “aye”. One hundred and sixty-nine Republicans and two Democrats voted “nay”. As a result, the provisions of the Berman Amendment were added to the Foreign Relations Authorization Act.

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