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H.R. 4368 (111th): Social Investment and Economic Development for the Americas Act of 2010


The text of the bill below is as of Dec 16, 2009 (Introduced).


I

111th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 4368

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

December 16, 2009

(for himself, Mr. Meeks of New York, Mr. Honda, Mr. Sires, Mr. McGovern, and Ms. Lee of California) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

A BILL

To authorize the establishment of a Social Investment and Economic Development for the Americas Fund to reduce poverty, expand the middle class, and foster increased economic opportunity in that region, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title; table of contents

(a)

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Social Investment and Economic Development for the Americas Act of 2010.

(b)

Table of Contents

The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Definitions.

Sec. 3. Findings.

Sec. 4. Statement of policy.

Sec. 5. Establishing a social investment and economic development fund for the Americas.

2.

Definitions

In this Act:

(1)

Appropriate congressional committees

The term appropriate congressional committees means the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives.

(2)

The Americas

The term Americas means all the countries of North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

(3)

The region

The term Region means all the countries of Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico.

3.

Findings

Congress finds that—

(1)

it is in the national interest and national security interest of the United States to help foster greater economic security and stability in the Americas;

(2)

the Americas are a distinct geographical region with political and cultural identities that are linked in important ways;

(3)

many of the social, economic, and security issues in the Americas transcend national borders, and addressing these issues requires a coordinated, long-term approach;

(4)

over the last few decades, there has been notable progress on democracy and economic stability in the Region, and it is now largely made up of democracies with shared democratic values;

(5)

for progress in the Region to be sustained, governments will need to continue to develop effective and transparent civilian institutions, and maintain a system of checks and balances among those institutions;

(6)

the United States is committed to promoting democracy, human rights, and social and economic development throughout the Americas, while respecting the heritage, culture, and sovereignty of all nations;

(7)

poverty and inequality remain persistent problems in the Americas, spawning street crime, criminal cartels, and undermining the authority of government institutions;

(8)

the poverty rate in the Region is nearly 40 percent, with little significant improvement since the 1980s, and the countries in the Region, on average, have the most unequal distribution of wealth in the world;

(9)

greater citizen engagement and closer connections between the institutions of civil society and local and national governments are critical to political stability and economic growth in the Americas;

(10)

development assistance to promote micro, small, and medium enterprise growth, improve the investment climate, and create a competitive workforce in the countries of the Region can help foster economic security and stability;

(11)

an expanding middle class in the Region will result in increased demand for exports from the United States;

(12)

in partnering with the countries of the Region, the United States can play a positive role in addressing the challenges of poverty and inequality, and achieving greater energy security;

(13)

an increased United States commitment to economic and social development in the Region can benefit workers and businesses in the United States; and

(14)

as President Obama said to the leaders of the Region at the Fifth Summit of the Americas, the United States is committed to combating inequality and creating prosperity from the bottom up … This is by no means charity. Together, we can create a broader foundation for prosperity that builds new markets and powers new growth for all peoples in the hemisphere.

4.

Statement of policy

It is the policy of the United States—

(1)

to minimize the negative economic impact on the countries in the Region of the global recession, and to seek a broad-based regional recovery;

(2)

to promote democracy and the rule of law in the Region;

(3)

to promote and strengthen human rights in the Region by—

(A)

participating in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights;

(B)

concluding negotiations on the draft Inter-American Convention against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance; and

(C)

supporting the full rights of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendents in the Americas, including the right to participate in the political and economic life of a nation;

(4)

to improve living conditions for all citizens in the Americas by—

(A)

protecting all people in the Americas, especially women, children, and adolescents, from all forms of trafficking in persons and sexual and economic exploitation;

(B)

coordinating national strategies within the Americas to eradicate forced labor before 2010, and the worst forms of child labor by 2020; and

(C)

supporting programs that create opportunities for work in the formal sector, and programs providing workers with the technical skills needed to meet the demands of labor markets;

(5)

to improve public health in the countries of the Americas by—

(A)

implementing the World Health Organization's International Health Regulations to prevent pandemics and reduce the likelihood of public health emergencies; and

(B)

implementing the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS;

(6)

to improve public education in the Americas by—

(A)

supporting programs which seek to increase enrollments in secondary and vocational-technical education;

(B)

reaffirming the commitment of the United States to the 2008 Declaration of Medellín: Youth and Democratic Values; and

(C)

supporting the Inter-American Social Protection Network;

(7)

to improve the capacity of government institutions by—

(A)

supporting the Inter-American Network on Decentralization, Local Government and Citizen Participation (RIAD);

(B)

supporting the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, adopted at Caracas, Venezuela, March 29, 1996, in the fight against all forms of corruption, fraudulent practices and unethical behaviors.

5.

Establishing a social investment and economic development fund for the Americas

(a)

Authorization of assistance

Part I of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:

13

Social investment and economic development for the Americas

499G.

Definitions

In this chapter:

(1)

Appropriate congressional committees

The term appropriate congressional committees means the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives.

(2)

The Americas

The term Americas means all the countries of North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

(3)

The region

The term Region means all the countries of Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico.

499H.

Authorization of assistance

(a)

Assistance

The President, acting through the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, and working with governments and civil society in the Americas, shall provide increased and sustained assistance to build civilian institutions that will help reduce poverty, expand the middle class, and foster increased economic opportunity by—

(1)

promoting education;

(2)

improving health and disease prevention;

(3)

increasing access to income generating activities;

(4)

reducing crime, particularly violent crime, including—

(A)

murder;

(B)

kidnapping;

(C)

gang violence, including youth gangs; and

(D)

violence against women;

(5)

generating rural development;

(6)

reducing poverty and inequality in both urban and rural areas;

(7)

strengthening the rule of law, governance, and democracy through the establishment of—

(A)

independent judiciaries;

(B)

efficient processes to adjudicate claims; and

(C)

effective law enforcement institutions; and

(8)

eliminating the exclusion of marginalized populations, including—

(A)

indigenous groups;

(B)

people of African descent;

(C)

women;

(D)

the impoverished; and

(E)

people with disabilities.

(b)

Contribution requirement

(1)

In general

Except as provided in paragraph (2), in order to receive assistance from the United States under this chapter, a recipient country shall contribute at least 10 percent of the total value of the funds the United States provides for projects in the recipient country.

(2)

Waiver

(A)

Authority

The Secretary of State may waive paragraph (1) if it is determined that it is important to the national security interests of the United States to do so.

(B)

Report

Whenever the waiver authority under subparagraph (A) is exercised, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees detailing the justification for the waiver and the purposes for which the funds will be spent.

(3)

Additional contributions

The Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development may require additional contributions from the recipient country.

(c)

Ineligibility To receive assistance

The President may not provide assistance under this section to the government of a country that is ineligible to receive assistance under section 620, this part, or chapter 4 of part II.

(d)

Additional terms and conditions

The President may impose additional terms and conditions on countries receiving assistance under this section.

(e)

Coordination with other Federal agencies

The Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development shall coordinate with the heads of other Federal departments and agencies as necessary to carry out this section.

499I.

Evaluation

(a)

In general

The Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development shall ensure that projects carried out under this chapter are subject to rigorous, independent impact evaluations at the initial design stage and the conclusion of the projects to determine if the projects are helping—

(1)

to reduce poverty in the Americas; and

(2)

to foster social and economic development in the countries of the Americas.

(b)

Coordinated evaluations

If possible, the evaluations shall be conducted in coordination with evaluations of similar projects that other donors fund in order to expand the evidence base used for making decisions.

(c)

Use of evaluations

The Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development shall use information from the evaluations conducted under subsection (a) to inform future project decisions.

499J.

Report

Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of the Social Investment and Economic Development for the Americas Act of 2010, and annually thereafter, the President shall submit to Congress a report on the specific programs, projects, and activities carried out under this chapter during the preceding year, including an evaluation of the results of the programs, projects, and activities.

499K.

Budget

The report required under section 499J may be submitted with the budget justification materials submitted to Congress and the budget submitted by the President under section 1105(a) of title 31, United States Code.

499L.

Authorization of appropriations

(a)

In General

In addition to amounts otherwise authorized to be appropriated for assistance to the Region, there are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this chapter—

(1)

$175,000,000 for fiscal year 2010;

(2)

$225,000,000 for fiscal year 2011;

(3)

$275,000,000 for fiscal year 2012;

(4)

$300,000,000 for fiscal year 2013; and

(5)

$325,000,000 for fiscal year 2014.

(b)

Additional Authorities

Amounts appropriated pursuant to subsection (a) shall remain available until expended.

(c)

Funding Limitation

Not more than 7 percent of the amounts appropriated pursuant to subsection (a) for a fiscal year may be used for administrative expenses to carry out programs authorized in subsection (a).

(d)

Microfinance Growth Fund for the Americas

(1)

Purpose

The purpose of the Microfinance Growth Fund for the Americas is to provide the countries in the Region with—

(A)

stable, medium-term and long-term sources of finance to microfinance institutions; and

(B)

investment vehicles.

(2)

Sense of Congress

It is the sense of Congress that United States contributions to the Microfinance Growth Fund for the Americas should be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis with contributions from the public, private, or non-profit sectors.

(3)

Authorization of appropriations

There is authorized to be appropriated $50,000,000 in each of the fiscal years 2010 through 2014 for debt and equity financing for the Microfinance Growth Fund for the Americas.

(e)

Capacity building related to trade promotion agreements

There is authorized to be appropriated to the United States Agency for International Development $15,000,000 in each of the fiscal years 2010 through 2014 for labor and environmental capacity building activities relating to the implementation of trade promotion agreements.

(f)

Eligible agreements

The agreements under subsection (e) may include agreements between the United States and other countries that are—

(1)

ratified agreements;

(2)

pending agreements; or

(3)

potential agreements.

(g)

Proposed public-Private fund for social and economic development in the Americas

(1)

In general

The Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, shall immediately establish and convene an advisory group, consisting of persons with a relevant professional background in the Americas from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, to consider the feasibility of establishing a new public-private Fund for Social and Economic Development in the Americas (referred to in this section as “the Fund”).

(2)

Sense of Congress

It is the sense of Congress that—

(A)

the Fund should be governed by a board composed of members drawn from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in the United States and the Region;

(B)

building on initiatives already underway in the Region, the Fund should make grants for the purpose of advancing long-term social and economic development in the Americas;

(C)

governments, development organizations, and private foundations throughout the world should contribute to the Fund, and the contribution of the United States Government to the Fund should be no greater than 1/3 of the total annual budget of the Fund; and

(D)

each country choosing to participate in the Fund should be required to contribute at least 10 percent of the annual total of grants received by such country, to ensure the active involvement of the country in the operation of the Fund and the grant-making process.

(3)

Report

(A)

In general

Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the advisory group established under paragraph (1) shall submit to the Secretary of State and the appropriate congressional committees a report containing conclusions about the feasibility of a Fund and its recommendations for organizing, financing, and operating the Fund.

(B)

Contents of the report

The report submitted under subparagraph (A) shall include a determination of the advantages and disadvantages of establishing and operating the Fund within an existing institution, such as—

(i)

the Inter-American Foundation;

(ii)

the World Bank; or

(iii)

the Inter-American Development Bank.

(4)

Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary for fiscal year 2010 for the purpose of carrying out this subsection.

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