Congress funds again Tibet programs in 2014 spending bill

The U.S. Congress continued its steady support for Tibet through the provision of approximately $19 million for Tibet programs through the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2014. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill on January 15, and the Senate soon thereafter.

“The United States Congress has once again given strong support to the cause of Tibet,” said Todd Stein, Director of Government Relations at the International Campaign for Tibet. “While these programs are but a minuscule part of the overall foreign aid budget, this investment yields big dividends for Tibetans and their efforts to preserve their culture and identity.”

The Consolidated Appropriations bill, together with the recommendations of the relevant House and Senate Committees and the President’s Budget, would provide in 2014:

  • grants to non-governmental organizations to support sustainable development and cultural traditions on the Tibetan plateau (increased to $7.9 million);
  • humanitarian assistance for Tibetan refugees (grants traditionally set at $2.5 million);
  • the Tibetan Scholarship and Ngwang Choephel fellows programs (more than $1 million);
  • funding for the office of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues at the State Department ($1 million); and
  • level funding for independent broadcasting into Tibet by Radio Free Asia and Voice of America; and
  • democracy grants through the National Endowment for Democracy.

The $1 million for the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues is Congress’ first specific dollar recommendation for this office in several years. It comes at a time when the position has been vacant for a year, although the office has remained staffed and active. The President has nominated Sarah Sewall to be Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, and she is likely to be given the Tibet portfolio if confirmed.

Since 1988, starting with the creation of the Tibetan Scholarship Program, Congress has initiated and funded at least nine U.S. government programs that benefit Tibetan in exile and inside Tibet through humanitarian assistance, economic development, educational assistance, and other efforts. These programs are annually a part of the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, which has been incorporated into the larger omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act.

Since its establishment in 1988, ICT has advocated to Congress to support the Tibetans’ efforts to preserve their culture, identity and traditions threatened by the oppressive policies of the Chinese government.

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