Clinton and Gates testify on Haiti (no, the other ones)
As the White House gets ready to request new money to help Haiti, everybody involved is starting to weigh in. Leading the discussion today were former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, both of whom testified to Congress Wednesday. "My goal in Haiti in this reconstruction, as I tell them ...
As the White House gets ready to request new money to help Haiti, everybody involved is starting to weigh in. Leading the discussion today were former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, both of whom testified to Congress Wednesday.
"My goal in Haiti in this reconstruction, as I tell them all of the time, is before I leave this Earth, I want to be able to go to Haiti as a tourist where all they need from me is my money as a tourist. We should be working on this," said Clinton, calling for robust funding for longer term development programs like PEPFAR and the Global Fund.
Clinton also talked about the need to rebuild what he described as what was a fairly successful education infrastructure in Haiti that has been devastated by the earthquake.
"I’m thinking about this in Haiti now because we’ve got to figure out what to do with these kids whose schools were destroyed and for the next year or so," he said.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking Republican Richard Lugar, R-IN, specifically called on the White House to include education funds in the upcoming Haiti supplemental request after attending a White House ceremony Wednesday with President Obama and Haitian President René Préval.
"As the administration prepares to present its supplemental appropriations request for Haiti, a top priority for recovery and long term reconstruction efforts in Haiti should include significant assistance to get Haitian children quickly back into the classroom," Lugar said, adding that assistance for infrastructure, technical assistance for instruction and curriculum development especially should be included.
Lugar also wanted to know how much leading aid organizations were interacting with the State Department and USAID.
"I think I can say without fear of contradiction that no NGO leader in American history has ever consulted as much as I have with the secretary of state," said Clinton.
Both Clintons had dinner with Preval and his wife Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, Congressional Quarterly reported Wednesday that congressional leaders in both chambers are wary of giving large amounts of money to Haiti without concrete assurances that there will be accountability over the funds. CQ also had these details about how the Haiti funding debate is shaping up:
Congressional and administration officials expect the Haiti supplemental request — which aides predict could total between $1 billion and $3 billion — will be submitted to Congress before it adjourns for its spring recess on March 26. The administration’s goal is to enact the supplemental by the time an international donors conference is held at the United Nations on March 31.
But it is far from clear that Congress could act that rapidly. And knowledgeable aides said it is quite possible that the Haiti supplemental will be considered after the recess in a single measure that also contains the $33 billion in fiscal 2010 funds that have been requested to support the ongoing troop buildup in Afghanistan and other war-related expenses.