The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
Progress on Capitol Hill for Haiti Recovery
June 26, 2014
Last month, we asked you to help us urge the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) to release the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act to the Senate for a vote. I’m happy to report that the SFRC has now approved the bill, and it’s back on track!
The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act (S. 1104) increases oversight of and accountability for U.S. aid to Haiti. The bill will set long-overdue policy guidelines that prioritize the needs of vulnerable populations and call for a forward-looking recovery strategy.
UUSC has been advocating for this legislation for several years. The House version of the bill (H.R. 3509), originally introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), passed with bipartisan support last December. It was then referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where it has languished for over five months. UUSC and our allies in the Haiti Advocacy Working Group (HAWG) redoubled our efforts with a series of actions to keep the bill from dying in committee. In May and early June, we pressured SFRC leadership on social media and over the phone, delivered a letter from the leaders of 22 nongovernmental organizations, and highlighted the issue in a Huffington Post piece by UUSC President and CEO Bill Schulz. It worked!
Here’s what SFRC Chairman Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said in a statement about the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act:
“Five years after the earthquake that devastated Haiti, meaningful rebuilding and redevelopment continues, but it is far from complete. . . . The U.S. Congress played an instrumental role in the recovery effort by approving $3.6 billion in assistance for the Haitian government and its people, but more work is needed. This legislation requires the State Department to provide Congress with a comprehensive report on what the U.S. Government has accomplished these last five years and includes establishing a new strategy with key benchmarks for monitoring progress. Though recovery is unfinished, the U.S. government, the Haitian-American community in New Jersey, and communities throughout our nation all have a vital role to play in seeing continued reconstruction and redevelopment in Haiti.”
Now that the Senate committee has approved the bill, the full Senate is slated to take it up without debate very soon. We expect the House to review and accept the Senate version after the July legislative recess. When all of these steps are completed, we look forward to President Obama signing it into law. Thank you to everyone who helped create extra pressure and new momentum for this bill — and stay tuned for further progress!