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Key House Committee Approves Bill to Prevent War

May 26, 2009

“Investing resources now to help prevent conflict and failed states is much more cost-effective than providing massive amounts of humanitarian relief, funding peacekeeping operations, or, in the most extreme circumstances, putting U.S. boots on the ground.”

~ House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Howard Berman.

Good things are happening on Capitol Hill! The Administration and now a key House Committee understand that it is both cheaper and more effective to invest in tools to help prevent deadly conflict, rather than responding with military force only after violence has erupted.

Last Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved legislation that would strengthen U.S. civilian foreign policy tools. If passed by both chambers of Congress and signed by the president, HR 2410, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for fiscal year 2010 and 2011 would authorize critical funding boosts for the tools of diplomacy, development and international cooperation.

Specifically the bill would:

  • Increase the U.S. diplomatic corps by 1,500 personnel, with an emphasis on sending more diplomats to global hot spots.
  • Enable USAID to hire 700 new development professionals.
  • Strengthen the training U.S. diplomats receive to help prevent, mitigate and resolve crises.
  • Authorize hundreds of millions in new funds for the civilian response corps, a cadre of rapidly deployable civilians with skills to help stabilize war-torn countries.
  • Ensure the U.S. pays back dues and meets its financial commitments to the United Nations and other international organizations.
  • Require the State Department to outline a government-wide strategy to prevent genocide and mass atrocities, a key recommendation from the Genocide Prevention Task Force.

FCNL strongly supports swift passage of this legislation. The bill must pass out of the full House, the Senate and be signed by the President before it becomes law. Last week, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator John Kerry (MA), said he hopes to introduce a Senate companion bill soon. We are working with his office and others in the Senate now to ensure a strong Senate bill.

Combined with President Obama’s international affairs budget, these legislative efforts are critical steps towards shifting U.S. foreign policy away from military reaction and towards early prevention of deadly conflict.

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