On July 6, the United States House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs approved a Fiscal Year 2021 State and Foreign Operations Funding bill, which also refers to Georgia.
According to the bill, proposed by the House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, of the funds appropriated under bilateral economic and international security assistance, “not less than USD 132,025,000 shall be made available for assistance for Georgia.”
The bill, however, envisages withholding the assistance funds. In particular, 15% of the funds made available for assistance for the Government of Georgia, “may not be obligated” until the Secretary of State determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations that the central Georgian Government is taking effective steps to:
- strengthen democratic institutions;
- combat corruption within the government, including in the application of anti-corruption laws and regulations; and
- ensure the rule of law in the private sector is consistent with internationally recognized standards.
The latter, according to the bill, includes “protecting the rights of foreign businesses to operate free from harassment and to fully realize all due commercial and financial benefits resulting from investments made in Georgia.”
The withholding shall not apply to programs that support democracy, the rule of law, civil society and the media, or programs to reduce gender-based violence and to protect vulnerable populations.
The Secretary may waive the application of withholding funds paragraph if the Secretary determines and reports to the Committees that to do so serves the national interest of the U.S.
The bill now heads to the full Committee for markup.