This was a vote on an amendment offered by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) that would have reduced the level of monitoring of intelligence operations and spending of U.S. funding that were imposed on Pakistan as a condition for its receipt of additional development and security assistance. H.R. 1886 tripled U.S. assistance for democratic, economic and social development in Pakistan, and required increased auditing, monitoring, reporting and evaluation of the use of the authorized funds.
The bill also required that Pakistan cooperate in preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and demonstrate its commitment to combating terrorism to continue to receive military assistance. These and the other requirements that had been imposed were motivated by concerns that Pakistan had not spent all of the previous U.S. assistance appropriately, and that the country was not fully implementing anti-terrorist efforts. The conditions were highly unpopular in Pakistan, which claimed that they intruded on its national sovereignty.
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) began her statement in support of her amendment by saying: “Congress and the administration are united in our goals toward Pakistan. We want a long-term partnership with a modern, a prosperous, a democratic Pakistan that is at peace with itself and at peace with its neighbors. And we want a Pakistan that does not provide safe haven to al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other militant extremist groups.” She then noted that her overall concern with H.R. 1886, as written, is that it “focuses on past actions and failures attributed to the Pakistani Government, punishing the new leadership for the sins of its predecessors.”
Ros-Lehtinen described her amendment as providing “the necessary flexibility for all U.S. agencies to respond quickly and to respond effectively to rapidly unfolding developments on the ground while still retaining robust accountability and congressional oversight of these programs.”
She added: “(W)hile the authors of H.R. 1886 may have sought to empower our Pakistani partners to undertake the formidable task of fighting and winning against violent extremists, it does the opposite. Further, accountability measures for Afghanistan and Pakistan must be tightly linked to the new U.S. strategy for the region rather than outdated assessments of the situation in Pakistan and preconceived notions about the response from our Pakistani partners.”
Rep. Berman (D-CA), who was leading the effort on behalf of H.R. 1886, opposed the amendment. He defended the existing legislation as a measure that strengthens the U.S. relationship with Pakistan. Berman claimed that the bill as constituted moves forward the strategy of the new Obama Administration “to enhance our ability to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in its safe havens in Pakistan . . . But it also reflects our deep appreciation of the fact that it is in our national interest to create a long-term strategic partnership with Pakistan; one that speaks to the needs of the average citizens of Pakistan.”
Rep. Jackson-Lee (D-TX) also opposed the amendment. She said there was an urgent need to move forward on the legislation because of the current fighting and the resulting refugee crisis in Pakistan”.
The amendment was defeated by a vote of 173-246 along almost straight party lines. One hundred seventy-two Republicans and one Democrat voted “aye”. Two hundred and forty-four Democrats and two Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the additional monitoring requirements on Pakistan were retained in the bill that tripled U.S. assistance to that country.