This was a vote on passage of H.R. 1886, the Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement Act (PEACE Act). The Act tripled U.S. assistance for democratic, economic and social development in Pakistan. It also required increased auditing, monitoring reporting and evaluation of the use of the authorized funds, and mandated that Pakistan cooperate in preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and demonstrate its commitment to combating terrorism to continue to receive military assistance.
The new reporting and monitoring had been imposed because of concerns that Pakistan was not fully implementing its anti-terrorist efforts, and that it had not spent all of the previous U.S. assistance appropriately. The conditions were highly unpopular in Pakistan, which claimed that they intruded on its national sovereignty
Rep. Berman (D-CA), who was leading the effort on behalf of H.R. 1886, said the legislation strengthened the U.S. relationship with Pakistan. Berman claimed that it moved forward the strategy of the new Obama Administration “to enhance our ability to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in its safe havens in Pakistan . . . But it also reflects our deep appreciation of the fact that it is in our national interest to create a long-term strategic partnership with Pakistan; one that speaks to the needs of the average citizens of Pakistan.” Berman concluded by saying that “(W)e need a robust, long-term relationship with our strategic partners to prevail against those who threaten our national security. The PEACE Act will help us establish just such a relationship with Pakistan.”
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who was leading the opposition to the bill, first said that “Congress and the administration are united in our goals toward Pakistan. We want a long-term partnership with a modern, a prosperous, a democratic Pakistan that is at peace with itself and at peace with its neighbors. And we want a Pakistan that does not provide safe haven to al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other militant extremist groups.” Ros-Lehtinen then said her primary concern with H.R. 1886 is that it “focuses on past actions and failures attributed to the Pakistani Government, punishing the new leadership for the sins of its predecessors.” She suggested that the bill does not provide the flexibility that U.S. agencies need to respond quickly and effectively “to rapidly unfolding developments on the ground while still retaining robust accountability and congressional oversight of these programs.”
Ros-Lehtinen also argued that the bill included conditions on the Pakistani Government regarding the availability of the funds authorized in the bill that she described as “onerous”. She said these conditions “might undercut our efforts to work with Pakistanis who share the interests of the United States . . . .”
The legislation passed by a vote of 224-185. Two hundred sixteen Democrats and eight Republicans voted “aye”. One hundred and sixty-seven Republicans and eighteen Democrats voted “nay”. As a result, the House approved and sent on to the Senate the legislation authorizing additional development and security assistance for Pakistan, and imposing additional monitoring requirements on that funding.