In a strong assertion of support for Tibet, the U.S. Congress is moving to give final approval to legislation that provides millions of dollars for Tibet programs. The funding is provided in the Conference Report on the Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 3288) for Fiscal Year 2010. The House of Representatives passed the bill on December 10 by a vote on 221-202; the Senate is expected to consider the measure this weekend.

“Through this legislation the United States Congress once again gives strong support to Tibetans’ efforts to preserve their culture and identity,” said Todd Stein, Director of Government Relations at the International Campaign for Tibet. “We especially welcome the new investment in helping revitalizing the aging refugee settlements in South Asia, a priority for the Central Tibetan Administration.” 
The bill includes $2 million for a new initiative to modernize Tibetan refugee settlements in India through organic agriculture and workforce development, designed to improve the sustainability and vitality of the long-standing settlement communities. It also funds several long-standing programs, including:

  • grants to non-governmental organizations to support sustainable development and cultural traditions on the Tibetan plateau ($7.4 million);
  • humanitarian assistance for Tibetan refugees (not specified, but House report earmarks the traditional level of $2.5 million);
  • Tibetan scholarship program for Tibetans living in India and Nepal ($750,000);
  • educational and cultural exchange programs ($650,000);
  • funding for the office of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues at the State Department (level not specified); and
  • “surge” level funding for Tibetan broadcasting by Radio Free Asia and Voice of America.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors and members of the International Campaign for Tibet, we thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the leaders of the two Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittees, Chairpersons Rep. Nita Lowey and Senator Patrick Leahy and Ranking Members Rep. Kay Granger and Senator Judd Gregg, for their steadfast support of these programs that nurture hope as Tibetans work for a resolution for Tibet,” said Todd Stein.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act is an omnibus bill that includes the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, the legislation that traditionally funds Tibet support programs. For more information, see chart on Tibet Appropriations, FY2010.