A comprehensive bill for assistance, stability, and security in Afghanistan was introduced in the House and voted out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee by a unanimous voice vote yesterday. Introduced by Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA), HR 2446 would reauthorize and expand upon the Afghanistan Freedom Support Act of 2002. The bill includes the major provisions of the Afghan Women Empowerment Act, including the authorization for three years of $5 million for the Afghan Ministry for Women’s Affairs, $10 million for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, and $30 million for Afghan-led non-governmental organizations that are providing assistance to Afghan women and girls. The new bill’s section on assistance to women and girls is almost identical to the Afghan Women Empowerment Act, except that funding for “Afghan women-led” organizations was replaced with funding for “Afghan-led, including Afghan women-led” organizations.
In introducing the bill at the Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, Rep. Lantos said that Afghanistan is “once again on the brink… It is at real risk of falling into the hands of the Taliban… We cannot and will not allow [this] to happen. This time, we aim to get it right.”
The bill addresses issues related to the drug trade in Afghanistan, corruption in government, and the extension of International Security Assistance Forces. The bill also includes assistance for energy development for internal consumption and export of natural gas and other energy sources.