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Embassy of Afghanistan Legislative Update for July 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 legislative activity pertinent to Afghanistan and the region.


FY 2008 Defense Authorization Bill (H.R. 1585)


FY 2008 Defense Authorization Bill incurred a setback this month in the Senate.  HR 1585 authorizes appropriations for Department of Defense programs for the FY 2008 and includes a provision for the appointment of a Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).  Republicans have strongly opposed the bill due to an included Democratic measure requiring troop withdrawal from Iraq by next spring.  Democratic Majority Leader, Harry Reid, responded by temporarily setting aside the bill. 


FY 2008 Defense Appropriations Bill


The House Appropriations Committee approved a $459.6 billion Defense appropriations bill, but did not include war spending for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as they will consider war funding separately in the fall.  Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Rep. John Murtha, stated that Democrats plan to introduce three amendments on military strategy in Iraq and the treatment of detainees.  The FY 2008 Defense Authorization bill mentioned above, which passed the House last month, is different from this bill in that it merely authorizes defense spending.  The Defense appropriations bill actually provides the funding for authorized military expenses. 


Implementing the 9/11 Commission Report Act of 2007 (H.R. 1)


The Senate and House met in Conference this month and issued a report on H.R. 1.  The legislation provides for the implementation of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations that remain after the enactment of the Intelligence Reform bill in 2004.  The Conference Committee Report includes a Statement of Congress strongly urging the reauthorization of the Afghanistan Freedom Support Act of 2002 and that it be updated to take into account new developments in Afghanistan and the region to demonstrate the continued support by the United States for the people and Government of Afghanistan.


Overseas Private Investment Corporation Reauthorization Act of 2007 (OPIC) (H.R. 2798)

On July 23, The House reauthorized the OPIC bill, a bill authorizing the international investment program that promotes exports and helps finance investments in developing economies through direct loans and loan guarantees.  The authorization is good through the end of FY 2011.  However, the latest version of the bill bars the OPIC from giving assistance to individuals who have loans to or more than $20 million invested in: the energy sector of any terrorist nation, nations developing nuclear weapons, or nations committing genocide.

Congressional Hearings


On July 12, the House National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee held an oversight hearing titled, “Pakistan at the Crossroads: Afghanistan in the Balance,” to explore the Administration's policies towards Pakistan.  The Honorable Richard A. Boucher Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, served as a witness.   The hearing discussed effective ways to inhibit the proliferation of Taliban in Pakistan and stop cross-border terrorist activity.    


On July 25, The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing titled, “Pakistan's Future: Building Democracy, or Fueling Extremism?”  Panelist Hon. R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs for the Department of State, discussed the rise in Al Qaeda activity from within Pakistan, the upcoming Pakistani elections, educational reform in Pakistan and push to increase cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Support for Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZ) was also discussed.  ROZs seek to address the lack of economic development and opportunities along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. 


On July 25, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Armed Service Committee held a joint hearing on the implications of the recently released National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) regarding Al-Qaeda.  The panel, which included senior officials from the U.S. Intelligence Community, noted the adaptability of Al Qaeda as a movement and its strength in the tribal regions of Pakistan, as well as the need to improve intelligence gathering through reform of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).  The public hearing was followed by a closed session discussion.

Congressional Response to the Recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)

This month, parts of the recent NIE Report were declassified and released.  The report confirmed that Al Qaeda has reestablished its central organization, training infrastructure and lines of global communication over the past two years, putting the United States in a "heightened threat environment" despite expanded worldwide counterterrorism efforts.  The released NIE report, titled "The Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Homeland," was presented to the President and Congress on July 17, 2007.


The House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) released a statement concerning the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) stating, "In hindsight, we should have concentrated our efforts on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan from the beginning. We missed an important opportunity when Bin Laden escaped from Tora Bora."  Chairman Skelton further stated that he would like to now concentrate more on U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. also issued a statement in response to the NIE report stating that the unclassified key judgments of the report "are a devastating indictment of the Administration's failure to accomplish its most important mission: destroying Al Qaeda and the threat it poses."


Ambassador Jawad Briefs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform - Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs

On July 12, Ambassador Said T. Jawad held a briefing on Afghanistan's Stability and Global Security for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs. 

Ambassador Jawad and subcommittee members exchanged ideas on how the US and Afghanistan can work together to improve existing security and reconstruction challenges.  During the discussion, Ambassador Jawad underscored the cost of doing too little in Afghanistan and focused on the impact that reconstruction has on security.  Ambassador Jawad welcomed questions from Subcommittee members on topics such as increasing cooperation between US and Afghan forces, effective counter-narcotics measures, curbing civilian casualties, increasing aid effectiveness, and the post-war brain drain in Afghanistan. 

Congressional Meetings


This month, Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad met with Senator Hilary Clinton and Senator Evan Bayh to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan.  Senators Clinton and Bayh extended their assistance and support to the people and Government of Afghanistan during this critical time.  Senator Clinton and Senator Bayh are both members of the Senate Committee on Armed Services and had visited Afghanistan earlier this year to assess the security situation and meet with US troops in the region. 

Recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report on Cost of the Afghan War

The CRS recently updated their report, "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11."  A copy of this report can be found at: .

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