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Embassy of Afghanistan Legislative Update for April 2007

At this crucial moment in time, the Embassy of Afghanistan is actively engaging the U.S. Congress to provide the resources and commitment necessary to successfully rebuild Afghanistan. As part of these efforts, we will provide regular updates on meetings with key U.S. Representatives and Senators and legislation pertinent to Afghanistan and the region.

As Democrats and Republicans continue to debate U.S. involvement in the Iraq war, the war in Afghanistan has received bi-partisan support in both houses of Congress. Throughout April, Congressional members of the 110th Congress continued to examine the security situation in Afghanistan in an effort to draft sound foreign policy. 

Congressional Events

On April 13, the Embassy of Afghanistan held two roundtables for professional staffers in the Senate and House to meet with Afghanistan’s Finance Minister Anwar ul-Haq Ahady.  Minister Ahady discussed current issues of aid effectiveness in Afghanistan, the 2007 Emergency Supplemental, and characteristics of the Afghan budget.  The Minister also answered questions about the security situation in Afghanistan and the problem of narcotics.  Minister Ahady stressed the importance of better donor coordination and prioritization of aid projects and partnership with the Government of Afghanistan. 

On April 17, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus held a member’s briefing on educational prospects and challenges in Afghanistan.  Panelists shared their views on the educational system in Afghanistan, how years of civil war have affected it, and the progress made since the fall of the Taliban.  Various ways to overcome the current challenges in the educational system were also discussed.  The panelists included: Professor Edna Mitchell, Emeritus Professor of Education, Mills College; Hali Jilani, Director, Institute of Cultural Intelligence; Professor Richard Navarro, Professor of Education, California State Polytechnic University; Nuran Kolan, Senior Advisor, Creative Associates International; and Carol Ruth Silver, Project Director, Master Teachers by Satellite for Afghanistan.  Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Co-Chair of the U.S.-Afghan Caucus and a member of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus expressed Congress’ commitment to Afghan children and re-focusing on the war on terror in Afghanistan. 

On April 18, the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce (AACC) held a forum in the Senate Dirksen building assessing the priorities and mechanisms for improving the effectiveness of U.S. aid to Afghanistan.  The event was held as Congress considers an $11.8 billion Emergency Supplemental appropriations bill for Afghanistan.  Over 150 representatives of U.S. government agencies, corporations, non-profit organizations, think tanks and individuals attended.  Panelists included high-ranking U.S. and Afghan government officials, AACC leadership and well-known American experts on Afghanistan, including: Afghanistan’s Minister of Finance Dr. Anwar-ul-Haq Ahady; Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia John A. Gastright, Jr.; Dr. Barnett Rubin of New York University’s Center for International Cooperation; Dr. Marvin Weinbaum of the Middle East Institute; AACC's President Atiq Panjshiri; and AACC's Chairman of the Board Ajmal Ghani.  Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) also spoke to the audience.  As a long-time proponent of peace and stability in Afghanistan, Rep. Rohrabacher emphasized the responsibility of the United States to support Afghanistan during these trying times.


U.S. Congressional Delegations to Afghanistan and the Region

On April 9, Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT), Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA), Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) traveled to Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, and Jordan. The delegation spent two days in Afghanistan to observe the country first-hand and spoke with various American and Afghan soldiers, military leaders, security forces, government leaders, and civil servants.  The Congressmen met with President Hamid Karzai to assess the situation along the tribal areas along the border with Pakistan. 

On April 19, members of this congressional delegation met with President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs Candida Wolff.  President Bush requested the meeting to discuss the delegation’s findings during their seven-day trip to the Middle East.  According to Rep. Lynch, “since we also had a chance to travel to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border area near Waziristan where the Taliban threat has been growing, it was important to express our concerns, and the concerns of our men and women in uniform, directly to the President and the Vice President, and their national security staff.”

According to Rep. Welch, “While the circumstances in each country and each war are different, I came away with the clear impression that the will of Afghani leaders to step up to the plate and take control of their future is far stronger than that of Iraqi leaders. . . In Afghanistan, 37 allied nations have joined together to help the Afghanis drive out the Taliban and restore order.  And political leaders have demonstrated a clear commitment to establishing a functioning government.” 

Upon his return, Rep. Welch wrote an op-ed in the Burlington Free Press,My Turn: Iraq, Afghanistan starkly different.” Click HERE to read.

Foreign Aid Legislation

House and Senate leaders unanimously approved allocations for the 2007 Emergency Supplemental bill after deliberations in Conference Committee on April 23.  However, only Democrats formally signed the bill as Republicans rejected its requirements for certification and a withdrawal timetable for Iraq.  Although Republicans voiced opposition, they made no attempt to delay or seek changes to the bill is expected to face a Presidential veto. 

The conference report provides $95.5 billion to the Department of Defense for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which is $750 million over the President’s original request for Afghanistan.  The Department of State is to receive $919.9 million for reconstruction in Afghanistan.  Highlights of the bill include: 

  • Support for 140,000 troops deployed in Iraq and 20,000 in Afghanistan, which fully funds the original surge force of 21,000 soldiers plus an additional 4,729 personnel in Iraq and 7,200 in Afghanistan
  • $1.648 million for Department of Justice’s criminal division to train law enforcement in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is equal to the House level, and $2.445 million below the President’s request and the Senate level
  • $12.166 million for the DEA to continue anti-drug operations in Afghanistan and hire additional DEA agents. This is $3.698 million above the President’s request and the House level, and $12.934 million below the Senate level
  • $4 million for the ATF to train explosives specialists in Iraq/Afghanistan and improve IED detection activities. This is equal to the President’s request and the House and Senate levels
  • $9.7 billion for the Afghanistan and Iraq Security Forces Funds to train and equip Afghan and Iraqi Security Forces and assist their governments in assuming greater responsibility for their nation’s security
  • $255 million for Drug Interdiction and Counter-drug Activities in Afghanistan and Central Asia
  • $1,255,890 for Army military construction, instead of $1,329,240 proposed by the House and $1,261,390 proposed by the Senate. This includes funding for projects in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as projects requested by the Administration for the Army’s “Grow the Force” initiative
  • $43,300,000 for Air Force military construction, instead of $60,200,000 proposed by the House and $34,700,000 proposed by the Senate. The funding is for projects in Afghanistan.  Included in the military construction funding is $274,800,000 for Army projects in Iraq and $554,190,000 for Army and Air Force projects in Afghanistan
  • The agreement provides $5.736 billion, which is $77.9 million below a split between the House and Senate-passed levels, for state and foreign operations. The agreement reflects the shift of $110 million for Pakistan to the Department of Defense, as requested by the President. The agreement is $153.8 million below the total House-passed level and $2 million below the total Senate-passed level (which included Pakistan)
  • A total of $919.9 million for Afghanistan reconstruction and State Department operations, which is $199 million above the amount requested.  Increases are provided for rural counter-narcotics, development, agriculture, humanitarian assistance, and Provincial Reconstruction Teams.  In addition, the conference provides $79 million for security at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul
  • Humanitarian Assistance: The agreement recommends a total of $185.5 million for humanitarian assistance for refugees and internally displaced persons in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Congo, Chad, Uganda and elsewhere in Africa. This is $84 million above the amount requested
  • Coordinator for Iraq Assistance: The conference agreement creates the new position of Coordinator for Iraq Assistance. The Coordinator will be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate

For more information, click to and  

Embassy Meetings and Correspondence

Ambassador Jawad and members of the Embassy’s political department met with staff from the congressional offices of Senator Kit Bond (R-MO), Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT), and Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA), as well as officers from the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association.  These discussions helped continue a dialogue between the Embassy and staffers of congressional offices on pertinent Afghan issues such as security, reconstruction, and counter-narcotics. 

Ambassador Jawad sent letters of appreciation to Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Senator Joe Lieberman and Co-Chair Senator Susan Collins for their endorsement of better management of post-war reconstruction in Afghanistan.  The Senators endorsed a report released by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction and called for better coordination among U.S. agencies in post conflict reconstruction.  They stated that Congress should revamp the way the federal government conducts significant relief and reconstruction efforts. 

For more information, see Lieberman, Collins Push For Better Management of Postwar Reconstruction in Iraq, Afghanistan

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