May 21, 2009

Gillibrand, Murkowski Offer Amendment to Strengthen Afghanistan Reconstruction Efforts

Bipartisan Amendment Expected As Part of Supplemental Military Spending Bill

Washington, D.C. - In a strong, bipartisan move to bolster our efforts in Afghanistan and take steps toward long-term stability, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Lisa Murkowski are introducing an amendment to the supplemental military spending bill that requests the U.S. Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), to enhance America's reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.  The Gillibrand-Murkowski amendment is likely to be included in the supplemental military spending bill, which is expected to pass before the Senate adjourns for Memorial Day.

"America's national security is strengthened if Afghanistan is rebuilt as a stable country that offers its own citizens the opportunity to work and succeed in the global economy, raise a family and provide quality education for their sons and daughters," Senator Gillibrand said. "This bipartisan amendment ensures we are taking the right steps to work with Afghan leaders and the international community to achieve those goals.  Quality schools, hospitals and other institutions are absolutely vital for improving lives and establishing Afghanistan's long term stability."

The Gillibrand-Murkowski amendment requests the Secretary of State and USAID to enhance U.S. reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan in the following ways:

  • Use lessons from previous reconstruction efforts in countries in conflict to develop an assistance approach in key sectors of the Afghan reconstruction work - emphasizing capacity building and support for local institutions;

  • Require civilian Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) leaders to regularly consult with local Afghan officials and other leaders to ensure reconstruction and development activities respond to local needs, are sustainable and strengthen the authority of the Afghan government at the provincial and sub-provincial level; and

  • Direct PRTs - when appropriate and safe and in accordance with current requirements for the reporting of waste, fraud and abuse - to provide a mechanism for local people to lodge complaints about corruption - when local law enforcement does not provide an adequate venue for such complaints.

As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Gillibrand is a dedicated voice for improving our national security and fostering strong relationships with our partners in the international community.