WASHINGTON — The US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee approved Tuesday a two billion dollar aid package to support reconstruction in Haiti, after a devastating earthquake that struck the nation in January.
The bill, proposed by committee chairman Senator John Kerry and his Republican colleague Bob Corker, would distribute the funds over two years to help reconstruction in coordination with Haiti’s government.
The legislation directs the US Agency for International Development to establish a “comprehensive rebuilding and development strategy for Haiti” and calls for the appointment of a senior coordinator to oversee US policy towards the country.
Under the plan, which must now go to the full Senate and the House of Representatives for approval, Congress would receive a first report on a strategy for disbursement of the aid 90 days after the bill was signed into law, and annually thereafter.
The legislation initially sought 3.5 billion dollars in aid for Haitian reconstruction over five years, but Republican Senator Richard Lugar sought to scale it back to two billion dollars over two years.
“While the original legislation was written to demonstrate our long-term commitment to Haiti by authorizing funding for five years, the amendment introduced by Senator Lugar addresses valid concerns,” Kerry said during a meeting of the committee.
“It is quite possible that the situation in Haiti may change significantly over the next two years. The amendment will give us an opportunity to reexamine the funding authorities and assistance plan after two years and modify both as necessary based on the context on the ground.”
The earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12 killed between 250,000 and 300,000 people and left more than 1.3 million Haitians homeless, according to figures provided by the United Nations and Haitian authorities.
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