The following is a June 12, 2014, open letter from organizational leaders calling on Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Robert Menendez and Ranking Member Senator Bob Corker to support swift passage of the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act.
Dear Chairman Menendez and Ranking Member Corker,
We, the undersigned heads of development, faith-based, human rights and social justice organizations, remain steadfast in our commitment to see a just recovery in Haiti after the deadly 2010 earthquake. We write to strongly urge the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to support swift passage and enactment of the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2013 (H.R.3509). This bill, which passed the House of Representatives last December with bipartisan support, provides much needed transparency, accountability and overall policy oversight for U.S. efforts in Haiti.
The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act was originally drafted in 2011 in response to the enormous complexities in providing aid in the aftermath of Haiti's earthquake. The bill passed the House and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with your support during the 112th Congress. In June 2013, a General Accounting Office (GAO) report highlighted the concern that “Congress lacks information on the amounts of funds obligated and disbursed and program-by-program progress of U.S. reconstruction activities [in Haiti].” With significant post-earthquake assistance still unspent and the needs of the Haitian people still unmet, it is time for Congress to provide stronger oversight and policy guidance to the State Department. The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2013 would address these significant and unmet needs.
As the US aspires to be a leader on the global stage of humanitarian and development relief, particularly in post disaster contexts, it is critical that future US policy and practice is informed by what has or has not been achieved in Haiti. The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act makes an important contribution to that learning.
The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act would reinstitute and strengthen requirements for the State Department to provide comprehensive reports to Congress on post-earthquake reconstruction and development projects in Haiti. The bill will provide this committee with a meaningful way to ensure the responsible allocation of U.S. taxpayer funds and help ensure that our efforts in Haiti are fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the Haitian people.
In the current political environment, we understand the importance of finding common ground to reach important goals. The United States, through USAID, “extends help from the American people to achieve results for the poorest and most vulnerable around the world. That assistance does not represent a Democratic value or a Republican value, but an American value.” The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act has widespread bi-partisan support, has undergone extensive consultations and is supported by organizations with a strong commitment to a just recovery in Haiti. Our organizations have long advocated for the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act and will continue to call on you and your colleagues to take meaningful action.
The time has come to bring the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act before your committee, to the Senate floor and on to the President’s desk. We urge you to support this bill’s swift passage and enactment into law.