In the midst of the House of Representatives efforts to completely gut US international investments in addressing carbon pollution, two leading Members of Congress highlighted how the US would lose out from these draconian cuts.  US Representative Howard Berman (D-CA) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) both raised the alarm bells – and they are ringing very loud as the House just voted for these major cuts.  Now eyes are on the Senate and the White House to reject these cuts.

In the midst of the House debate, Rep. Berman took to the House Floor to remind us that these cuts would hurt Americans.  Here is what Rep. Berman had to say (full text and video): 

“I am deeply concerned by what I see happening to the international affairs budget…

In past years, the State Department and foreign operations appropriation bill has passed with strong bipartisan support, often by an overwhelming margin. Members of both parties have understood how important diplomacy and development are — not only to U.S. standing in the world, but to our country’s own economic growth, to American jobs, and to American national security.

…They know that, over the long term, the best way to create more jobs at home is to build more export markets overseas.

Somehow the draconian cuts in this bill were not enough for many in this body. Added on top of all these cuts, we now face amendments…[that] would prohibit us from taking action to address climate change…

There’s one thing the authors of these amendments don’t seem to understand: Aid is not a gift. The United States provides foreign assistance because it serves OUR interests.

Madam Speaker, the cuts to international spending in this bill will not create a single U.S. job – in fact, they will cost jobs.    

And here is what Senator Leahy had to say on the first round of proposed cuts, before the House cut even deeper (full text):

“…most Americans are under the mistaken impression that these programs comprise 15 to 20 percent of the Federal budget, when they actually comprise 1 percent.  Rather than set the record straight, that misimpression is a convenient excuse for House Republicans to slash these programs without having to worry about complaints from voters in their home districts.

I doubt they will call attention to the fact that in doing so they will be cutting funding for programs to promote U.S. exports which are the fastest growing sector of the U.S. economy, especially small businesses, which face fierce competition from China.  In fact, I doubt they will call attention to China at all, since the Chinese long ago recognized that its security is directly tied to its foreign relations, and its investments, on other continents…

…Does anyone doubt that helping to mitigate an environmental and humanitarian calamity caused by melting glaciers, widespread drought, and rising sea levels, is in our national security interest?

…the House allocation for the Department of State and foreign operations would require drastic cuts in critical programs that are essential to maintaining U.S. global leadership and protecting our security.”

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As the Senate looks at the funding cuts proposed by the House, they should quickly dump them in the garbage bin and start over with a clean slate.  While these tough economic times require that we closely scrutinize all funding, investments in efforts to address international carbon pollution shouldn’t be on the chopping block.  Representative Berman and Senator Leahy understand the importance of these investments.  Let’s hope their colleagues see the wisdom of their words.