Congresswoman Waters Supports Bill Requiring Presidential Report on Relief to Haiti
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a strong advocate for the Haitian people in the U.S. Congress, spoke today from the House floor in support of H.R. 1016 - Assessing Progress in Haiti Act. The bill later passed the House without opposition.
Below are the Congresswoman's remarks as prepared for delivery:
"I rise to support this bill to measure the progress of recovery efforts in Haiti following last year's devastating earthquake, and I thank my friend and colleague, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, for introducing this bill.
"Immediately following the earthquake, there was an outpouring of sympathy from people in the United States and around the world. I introduced H.R. 4573, the Debt Relief for Earthquake Recovery in Haiti Act, which was signed into law in April of last year. This law led to the cancellation of approximately $828 million of Haiti's debts, freeing up resources for the Government of Haiti to use for earthquake recovery efforts.
"The United Nations held a donors' conference, which I attended, and the international community pledged a total of $9.9 billion in reconstruction funds – including $5.3 billion for the first two years.
"Yet more than one year later, little if any of the money has reached the people of Haiti. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), 680,000 displaced people are still living in tent camps. I visited some of these camps, and the conditions were appalling. There is a critical need for food, clean water and sanitation facilities. A deadly outbreak of cholera has already killed more than 4,800 people and infected more than 280,000 people. The effects of the epidemic were exacerbated by the lack of clean water and sanitation infrastructure.
"Foreign aid without transparency will accomplish nothing.
"We owe it to the Haitian people – and the American people – to find out how much of this money was actually delivered to Haiti and where the money went. That is why I strongly support this bill, which requires the President to report on the status of post-earthquake relief, recovery, reconstruction, and development efforts in Haiti. The report must evaluate coordination among various international agencies and donors; the extent to which U.S. and international efforts are in line with the priorities of the Government of Haiti; and mechanisms for Haitian civil society to participate in recovery efforts.
"I am in awe of the strength and resiliency of the Haitian people. We owe it to them to assist them in their time of need. We also owe it to them to make certain our assistance reaches the people who need it most.
"I urge my colleagues to support this bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.