Congressional news

The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation to authorize $34.2 billion for the programs and activities of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last Wednesday. The bill, H.R. 1817, passed the House by a vote of 424-4.

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The U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday approved legislation to fund the operations and activities of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for FY 2006 at $30.8 billion, $1.37 billion above the FY 2005 enacted levels, and $1.3 billion above the President’s request. The legislation, which criticized the Department for its failure to submit congressionally mandated plans and reports, passed by a vote of 424 to 1.

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The U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday approved legislation to fund the operations and activities of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for FY 2006 at $30.8 billion, $1.37 billion above the FY 2005 enacted levels, and $1.3 billion above the President’s request. The legislation, which criticized the Department for its failure to submit congressionally mandated plans and reports, passed by a vote of 424 to 1.

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Recognizing that “the Subcommittee will face difficult decisions in the weeks and months ahead,” Chairman Mitch McConnell (R-KY) welcomed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the first meeting of the new Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Thursday afternoon.

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President Bush Wednesday signed into law an $82 billion supplemental spending package that, in addition to funding military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, includes provisions related to the scholar-rescue program, drivers’ license issuance, H2-B and other immigration matters, as well as additional foreign aid programs.

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“No one feels stronger about the importance of academic and scientific exchanges than we do,” Daniel Smith, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs at the State Department, stated yesterday at a Congressional hearing. Smith appeared Thursday with other witnesses to discuss embassy and border security for FY2005-2006 before the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights, and International Operations.

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Alliance Board Chair Kenton Keith testified Wednesday before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice and Commerce and Related Agencies in support of President Bush’s budget request for the educational and cultural exchange programs of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Keith also made recommendations to the Subcommittee about ways to strengthen public diplomacy within the Department of State.

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Alliance Board Chair Kenton Keith testified Wednesday before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice and Commerce and Related Agencies in support of President Bush’s budget request for the educational and cultural exchange programs of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Keith also made recommendations to the Subcommittee about ways to strengthen public diplomacy within the Department of State.

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House appropriators cautioned Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) CEO Paul Applegarth on Wednesday that budget constraints could limit the amount of funding appropriated for the corporation this year.

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Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) introduced a resolution on Tuesday to express the sense of the Senate that Americans should become more engaged in world affairs. The resolution, S. Res. 104, would also urge the Secretary of State to take the lead and coordinate with other organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, on the creation of an online database of international exchange programs and related opportunities. Further, it would encourage all Members of Congress to work to raise the importance of citizen diplomacy in their states and districts. A House version of the resolution, H. Res. 192, was introduced by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) on April 6, 2005.

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