The United States Congressional Committee vote to ban aid to Sri Lanka although still under consideration is far from being passed and implemented,” according to the Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the US Jaliya Wickramasuriya. “The proposed cut is under consideration, but far from resolution. In fact, there’s a good chance that the legislation will never be finalised,” he told the Daily Mirror, from Washington
The Ambassador stressed that this was not a move that targeted Sri Lanka. “This resolution was just one page in a bill that was hundreds of pages long. Sri Lanka was not targeted by the U.S. – This was a budget bill that had much more to do with politics in the U.S. than with Sri Lanka. The Republicans in the House of Representatives, where this bill stands now, have proposed cutting 18% of the foreign aid budget across the board, so they proposed a bill in which a host of countries lose some of U.S. foreign aid, he said.
Wickramasuriya went on to explain that the Bill proposed in the House of Representatives, controlled by the Republican Party, is unlikely to be passed by the Senate—where the pro-welfare democrats have the majority. “The Senate, which is control by the Democratic Party, did not call for a reduction of aid to Sri Lanka in its bill. While the House bill proposes to cut foreign aid 18% percent across the board, the Senate bill proposes the same aid levels as last year,” he said.
Backing his claim that the proposed bill is unlikely to be passed the Ambassador stated that a Bill of this nature has not been passed in the recent past. “Congress has historically had a difficult time with this type of legislation. The last time that a State Department Authorization bill passed both the House and Senate and got through the conference process and became law was in 2002 – nearly 10 years ago,” Wickramasuriya said.
He further stated that given the political climate in the US the Bill is unlikely to be passed. “Given the current political climate and disagreements over funding, it is unlikely that this year’s bill will even become law,” he said. (By Dianne Silva)