Durbin Questions USAID Administrator At Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing
Reiterates call for release of Philippines Senator Leila de Lima
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today questioned United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power at a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs hearing about USAID’s Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget request. Durbin began his questions by asking about Haiti, which continues to face security issues and struggles to recover from multiple natural disasters in the wake of political instability after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last year.
“I’m concerned about Haiti and we’ve spoken about it before. It’s a heartbreaking history in that country that tried to emerge out of slavery and still is burdened by it. It appears developing a functioning government in that country is a challenge. How do you see it?” Durbin asked.
Administrator Power responded that due to the ongoing problems, it remains challenging for USAID to operate in and support Haiti. She affirmed that in partnership with the U.S. Department of State, USAID is increasing support for the Haitian National Police to combat crime, and help young people with the new citizens security program, an initiative reflected in the budget request.
Durbin then asked if she was familiar with Philippine Senator Leila de Lima, who has been unjustly jailed for political reasons for more than five years.
“Is there any more we can be doing to help her?” Durbin asked.
Administrator Power praised Durbin for getting a number of political prisoners out of jail over the years. She confirmed that a new government provides a renewed opportunity for a diplomatic push urging for Senator de Lima’s release, and she will follow up on any developments.
In 2020, Durbin, along with U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Chris Coons (D-DE), led the successful passage of a resolution calling for the release of Senator de Lima, a call reiterated in a recent joint statement around the recent recanting of testimony against de Lima.
Video of Durbin’s remarks from the hearing is available here.
Audio of Durbin’s remarks from the hearing is available here.
Footage of Durbin’s remarks from the hearing is available here for TV Stations.
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