Text: H.Res.135 — 109th Congress (2005-2006)All Information (Except Text)

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Engrossed in House (03/14/2005)

 
[Congressional Bills 109th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H. Res. 135 Engrossed in House (EH)]


                 In the House of Representatives, U.S.,

                                                        March 14, 2005.
    Resolved,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This resolution may be cited as the ``House Democracy Assistance Commission 
Resolution''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    The House of Representatives makes the following findings:
            (1) Since its founding, the United States has championed the 
        expansion of democracy around the world.
            (2) Indeed, beginning with the Continental Congress and continuing 
        through the modern Congress, representative institutions have served as 
        a critical component through which the American people have expressed 
        their views on policy issues and through which the power of other 
        government branches has been balanced.
            (3) In his second inaugural address on January 20, 2005, President 
        George W. Bush declared: ``We are led by events and common sense to one 
        conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on 
        the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our 
        world is the expansion of freedom in all the world. . . . So it is the 
        policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic 
        movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the 
        ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.''.
            (4) Strong institutions, particularly national legislatures with 
        proper infrastructure, are essential for democracies to mature and to 
        withstand cyclical turnover in governments.
            (5) Furthermore, the parliaments of emerging democracies are 
        commonly comprised of new legislators, citizens from many walks of life, 
        who face the challenges of creating new democratic systems without the 
        benefit of previous legislative experience. The legislatures of these 
        fledgling democracies often lack training, equipment, or resources to 
        carry out their work effectively.
            (6) Many parliaments do not possess the necessary technology, such 
        as modern computer equipment, software, or access to databases and 
        electronic resources, to facilitate the timely flow of legislative 
        information to lawmakers and legislative staff.
            (7) Parliaments in fledgling democracies also frequently lack 
        trained staff to provide nonpartisan policy information, to draft 
        legislation, and to advise legislators on policy matters.
            (8) Newly democratic parliaments may lack the resources to establish 
        internal libraries, reference materials, and archiving capabilities for 
        use by legislators and staff.
            (9) From 1990 through 1996, the United States House of 
        Representatives, in conjunction with the House Information Systems 
        Office (later known as House Information Resources) and the 
        Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress, 
        provided equipment and technical assistance to newly democratic 
        parliaments in Central and Eastern European countries, including 
        Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, 
        Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine, in an effort 
        to develop and strengthen those institutions.
            (10) This program, commonly known as the ``Frost-Solomon Task 
        Force'', not only served the United States foreign policy goal of 
        helping to establish democratic institutions in other countries, but 
        also developed significant goodwill in the countries in which it was 
        implemented. The program was designed to improve the efficiency of 
        parliaments and the professionalism of their members and staff, as well 
        as to increase transparency and accountability.
            (11) A program similar to the Frost-Solomon Task Force would enable 
        Members, officers, and staff of the House of Representatives to share 
        their expertise and experience with their counterparts in other 
        countries, in keeping with the declared policy of the United States to 
        support the growth of democratic institutions, thereby undertaking what 
        President Bush called ``the idealistic work of helping raise up free 
        governments''.

SEC. 3. ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMISSION.

    There is established in the House of Representatives a commission to be 
known as the House Democracy Assistance Commission (hereafter in this resolution 
referred to as the ``Commission'').

SEC. 4. MEMBERSHIP OF COMMISSION.

    (a) Number and Appointment.--The Commission shall be composed of Members of 
the House of Representatives, the number of whom shall be determined by the 
Speaker of the House of Representatives, in consultation with the Minority 
Leader of the House of Representatives. Majority party members shall be 
appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and minority party 
members shall be appointed by the Minority Leader of the House of 
Representatives.
    (b) Terms of Members of the House of Representatives.--Each member of the 
Commission shall be appointed for a term that is concurrent with the Congress in 
which the appointment is made. Such a member may be reappointed for one or more 
subsequent terms in accordance with the preceding sentence.
    (c) Chairperson.--The Chairperson of the Commission shall be designated by 
the Speaker of the House of Representatives from among the members appointed by 
the Speaker of the House of Representatives under subsection (a).

SEC. 5. DUTIES OF COMMISSION.

    (a) Activities.--The Commission shall work with the parliaments of selected 
countries, as determined pursuant to subsection (b)(4), on a frequent and 
regular basis in order to--
            (1) enable Members, officers, and staff of the House of 
        Representatives and congressional support agencies to provide expert 
        advice to members and staff of the parliaments of selected countries;
            (2) enable members and staff of parliaments of selected countries to 
        visit the House of Representatives and its support agencies to learn 
        about their operations first-hand; and
            (3) provide recommendations to the Administrator of the United 
        States Agency for International Development regarding the provision of 
        material assistance, such as modern automation and office systems, 
        information technology, and library supplies, that the Commission 
        determines is needed by the parliament of a selected country in order to 
        improve the efficiency and transparency of its work, and to oversee the 
        provision of such assistance.
    (b) Study.--
            (1) In general.--In order to carry out the activities described in 
        subsection (a), the Commission shall conduct on an annual basis (or more 
        frequently if necessary) a study on the feasibility of programs of 
        assistance for parliaments of countries described in paragraph (2) for 
        the purpose of strengthening the parliamentary infrastructure of such 
        countries. The Commission shall designate those countries described in 
        paragraph (2) with respect to which a study will be conducted under this 
        subsection. The study shall assess--
                    (A) the independent and substantive role that each 
                parliament plays, or could reasonably be expected to play, in 
                the legislative process and government oversight;
                    (B) the potential benefit to each parliament of expert 
                advice from Members and staff of the House of Representatives in 
                areas such as the development of research services and 
                legislative information systems, parliamentary procedure, 
                committee operations, budget process, government oversight, and 
                constituent services; and
                    (C) the need in each parliament for material assistance, 
                such as modern automation and office systems, information 
                technology, and research materials, in order to improve 
                efficiency and transparency.
            (2) Countries described.--The countries referred to in paragraph (1) 
        are countries that have established or are developing democratic 
        parliaments which would benefit from assistance described in this 
        resolution.
            (3) Sense of the house of representatives.--It is the sense of the 
        House of Representatives that the countries described in paragraph (2) 
        with respect to which studies will be conducted under this subsection 
        should reflect a geographic diversity and over time should include 
        countries from each of the following regions: Africa, Asia and the 
        Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia, and the Western 
        Hemisphere.
            (4) Selected countries.--From the countries studied, the Commission 
        shall select one or more parliaments that it recommends should receive 
        assistance under the provisions of this resolution, based on the 
        criteria in paragraph (1). Assistance may be provided under the 
        provisions of this resolution to a parliament selected under this 
        paragraph only if the parliament first expresses to the Speaker of the 
        House of Representatives an interest to receive such assistance.
    (c) Report.--
            (1) In general.--Not later than September 30, 2005, and each 
        September 30 thereafter until September 30, 2009, the Commission shall 
        prepare and submit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the 
        Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, the Committee on 
        International Relations and other appropriate House committees, the 
        Office of Interparliamentary Affairs of the House of Representatives, 
        and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International 
        Development, an annual report on the following:
                    (A) Results of study.--The results of the study conducted 
                pursuant to subsection (b).
                    (B) Commission activities.--In accordance with the results 
                of such study, a review of the activities of the Commission in 
                the previous year and a proposal for the activities of the 
                Commission in the following year, as described in subsection 
                (a).
            (2) Definition.--In this subsection, the term ``other appropriate 
        House committees'' means the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee 
        on House Administration, and the Committee on Rules of the House of 
        Representatives.

SEC. 6. ROLE OF THE COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.

    (a) In General.--The Commission shall carry out the duties described in 
section 5 using the staff and resources of the Committee on International 
Relations, including the use of consultants, such as individuals with expertise 
in development of democratic parliaments, legislative systems management, 
legislative research, parliamentary procedure, related legislative matters, and 
technology systems management, as appropriate.
    (b) Participation of Legislative Branch Employees.--At the request of the 
Commission, the head of any House office or congressional support agency may 
assist the work of the Commission by--
            (1) detailing personnel of that office to the staff of the Committee 
        on International Relations; or
            (2) authorizing personnel of that office to participate in 
        activities of the Commission.

SEC. 7. TERMINATION.

    The Commission shall terminate on September 30, 2009.
            Attest:

                                                                          Clerk.