Imagini ale paginilor


JUNE 29, 2000

Statement of Chairman Benjamin A. Gilman
Committee Markup of H.R. 3673

United States-Panama Partnership Act of 2000
June 29, 2000

I first introduced the United States-Panama Partnership Act in October of 1998, with a bipartisan list of distinguished cosponsors, including not only many of my Republican colleagues, but also the distinguished ranking member of our Subcommittee on International Economic Policy and Trade, Mr. Menendez, and the distinguished ranking member of the Committee on Ways and Means, Mr. Rangel.

We introduced this legislation because Panama and the United States stand at a crossroads in the special relationship between our two peoples that dates back nearly 100 years. At the dawn of the new century, our two nations must decide whether to permit that special relationship to die, or to renew and reinvigorate it for the 21st century.

This legislation offers Panama the benefits of closer relations with the United States. In exchange for such benefits, it asks Panama to remain our partner in the war on drugs by agreeing to host a U.S. presence, alone or in conjunction with other countries, sufficient to carry our vital counter narcotics and related missions.

Our nation has a critical need for access to some of the facilities that we had in Panama up until the end of last year. General Wilhelm, the commander of the U.S. Southern command, recently admitted to Congress that today our nation has only one-third of the capacity to interdict narcotics smuggling into the United States that we had before we lost access to facilities in Panama.

I am only aware of two potential objections to this legislation. The first is that Panama may not be interested in the kind of relationship that we are offering.

None of us know for sure whether or not Panama would be interested, because the United States has never before seriously offered such a relationship to Panama. Public opinion surveys in Panama have consistently shown that 70 percent or more of the Panamanian people would like there to be a continued U.S. presence in Panama.

But more importantly, this legislation does not seek to force Panama to enter into such a relationship. It does not even force the President to offer such a relationship. It merely authorizes the President to make such an offer. If the President decides to make such an offer, Panama will be free to accept or reject it.


I believe that, if we pass this legislation, we can significantly reduce the flow of drugs into the United States. If I am wrong about that, then the worst that can be said about passing this bill is that we wasted our time. That is a risk I am prepared to run, given the significant rewards our nation will reap if I am right and the skeptics are wrong.

The second potential objection to this bill is that it is another trade give-away. I am very sensitive to this concern. That is why I vote against most free trade measures, such as NAFTA and fact track authority.

But this bill is not a trade give-away. For the first item ever, this bill asks for something in return for enhanced access to the U.S. market. What we will get in return is the facilities we need to interdict the flow of drugs into the United States. This bill will save American lives.

In addition, I would remind members that the trade-related portions of the bill-sections 4(e), 5, and 6-are not technically before our Committee. Those parts of the bill were referred to the Committee on Ways and Means, and we do not have jurisdiction to report or amend them. The Ways and Means Committee will consider those parts of the bill later and when you vote today, you will be voting only on whether to report the other, non-trade related portions of the bill.

I encourage all Members to support H. R. 3673.

Statement of Chairman Benjamin A. Gilman

Markup of H. R. 4697

The International Anti-Corruption and Good Governance Act of 2000

June 29, 2000

I am pleased to co-sponsor H.R. 4697, a bill introduced by our Ranking Member, the gentleman from Connecticut, Mr. Gejdenson, that amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, to authorize the President to establish programs that combat corruption in developing countries by promoting principles of good governance designed to enhance oversight of private and public programs.

I concur with Mr. Gejdenson that it is essential for the United States to assist emerging democracies by providing governments in developing countries with the tools necessary to account for the expenditure of public funds and the proper administration of government programs.

Accountability and transparency in the administration of public programs are essential ingredients to instill confidence in government and necessary to ensure that the democracy flourishes.

All to often, well meaning programs and initiatives prove ineffective because the tools necessary to guarantee their proper implementation and administration are lacking. This is an especially acute problem in those societies without a track record of democratic practices and without the institutions necessary to provide for adequate oversight.

It is also unquestionable that corruption poses a major impediment to sustainable development and deters foreign investment in those countries that need it the most. This bill would address this growing problem directly and provide the tools needed to fight the corruption that stifles growth and democracy in the developing world.

This bill, if approved by our Committee, will authorize the President to create in developing societies those very programs that ensure accountability and oversight of private and public programs in the United States.

Statement of Chairman Benjamin A. Gilman
Markup of H. Con. Res. 322

Regarding Vietnamese Americans and others seeking to improve
social and political conditions in Vietnam
June 29, 2000

I want to commend the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Davis, for introducing House Concurrent Resolution 322, expressing the sense of Congress regarding the sacrifices of individuals who served in the Armed Forces of the former Republic of Vietnam. I would also like to thank the Chairman of the Asia and Pacific Subcommittee, Mr. Bereuter, for his work in crafting the current language in the resolution..

It is truly unfortunate that ten years after the end of the Cold War, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is still a one-party state ruled and controlled by a Communist Party which represses political and religious freedoms and commits numerous human rights abuses. It is appropriate that we recognize those who fought to oppose this tyranny which has fallen across Vietnam, and those who continue the vigil of struggling for freedom and democracy there.

I urge Hanoi to cease violations of human rights and undertake the long-overdue liberalization of its moribund and stifling political system. The people of Vietnam clearly deserve better.

Finally, I call upon the Vietnamese government to do all it can unilaterally to assist in bring our POW/MIA's home to American soil.

I want to praise this resolution for pointing out the injustice that tragically exists in Vietnam today and those who have - and are - opposing this injustice today.

I commend Mr. Davis for introducing this resolution and his commitment to human rights and democracy in Vietnam. Accordingly, I request to be added to the list of cosponsors of the resolution and I look forward to bringing this resolution to the floor at an early date.

« ÎnapoiContinuă »