H.R. 3509: Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2013

H.R. 3509

Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2013

Date
December 12, 2013 (113th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Thursday, December 12, 2013, the House will consider H.R. 3509, the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2013, under a suspension of the rules.  The bill was introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and has fifteen cosponsors.  H.R. 3509 was marked up on November 20, 2013 by the House Foreign Affairs Committee and was ordered reported, as amended, by unanimous consent.

Bill Summary

H.R. 3509 requires that the Secretary of State provide to Congress a detailed report on the status of post-earthquake recovery and development efforts in Haiti within 120 days of the bill’s enactment, and every 180 days thereafter until September 30, 2016.[1] 



[1] In part, the report must include a summary of the Haiti Rebuilding and Development Strategy, progress of U.S. efforts to advance the strategy, recovery work being done by U.S. government agencies, an assessment of U.S. efforts to engage with the Haitian government and civil society, and efforts to leverage public-private partnerships and increase involvement of the Haitian private sector in recovery and development efforts.  See H.R. 3509 Sec. 5.

Background

In January of 2010, an earthquake struck Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, killing more than 316,000 people,[1] injuring an additional 300,000, and displacing approximately 2 million.[2]  An assessment conducted by the Haitian government with assistance from the United Nations and other international organizations estimated that fifteen percent of Haiti’s population was directly affected by the disaster, with damages and economic losses totaling $7.8 billion.[3]

Since 2010, the U.S. has allocated $1.3 billion for humanitarian relief and $2.3 billion for recovery, reconstruction, and development assistance in Haiti.[4]  Of the funds appropriated by Congress, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) received $651 million “to support an ambitious recovery plan, including the construction of a power plant . . . a new port . . . and permanent housing . . . .”[5]  As of June 2013, three years after Congress appropriated the funds, USAID had disbursed only thirty-five percent, “the port project was 2 years behind schedule and over budget by an estimated $189,000,000, the housing project has been reduced by 80 percent, and the sustainability of the power plant, the port, and the housing projects were all at risk.”[6]

When Congress appropriated funds in 2010, it also directed the Department of State to issue periodic reports to keep Congress apprised of U.S. relief progress in Haiti.[7]  The reporting requirement expired in September 2012, despite the fact that most of the funds had not yet been disbursed.  A GAO report issued in June of 2013 found that “Without complete and accurate reporting from State, Congress lacks the critical information on program funding and progress it needs to fully oversee the use of the Haiti reconstruction supplemental funding.”[8]  GAO recommended that Congress consider “requiring State to reinstitute the requirement to provide it with periodic reports until most of the funds in each sector are disbursed.[9]  H.R. 3509 will address this issue, increasing Congress’ access to information on U.S. recovery efforts and allowing it to conduct greater oversight of the use of taxpayer funds.



[3] H.R. 3509 at Sec. 2 (2).

[4] Id. at Sec. 2(8).

[5] H.R. 3509 at Sec. 2(9).

[6] GAO Report at 6 and H.R. 3509 at Sec. 2(11).

[7] GAO Report at 3-4.

[8] GAO Report at 37-38.

[9] Id. at 39.

Cost

According to CBO estimates, implementing H.R. 3509 would cost less than $500,000 in discretionary spending over the 2014-2016 period.  The bill would not affect direct spending. 

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.