Congressman Sherman Amendments to BUILD Act Helps Align New Agency with Foreign Policy Goals
Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed H.R. 5105, or the BUILD Act. Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), a senior member on the Foreign Affairs Committee, is a cosponsor of the BUILD Act, which will require the functions, personnel, assets, liabilities, and policies of OPIC to transfer to the U.S. Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and expand its authorities.
Sherman secured an amendment that ensures that, in addition to people from business and finance backgrounds, those with international development, labor, and environmental experience can serve on the DFC board. The DFC has four non-governmental members, and some of those who serve should have experience in these fields. The Committee also passed Sherman's amendment to secure a requirement that the annual report of the DFC includes reporting on project compliance with existing labor, environmental, and social policies.
Two other amendments offered by Congressman Sherman (D-CA) to the BUILD ACT passed the Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously.
First, Sherman's submitted an amendment to the BUILD Act would help ensure that the DFC avoids supporting projects where the beneficiaries are entities that conduct activities subject to sanctions. The amendment would require an affirmative certification that the beneficiaries, and any affiliated entities, do not conduct business that is subject to U.S. sanctions laws.
Sherman’s second amendment would require the DFC to consider whether the parties involved in a project seeking support from the DFC participate in the Arab League’s anti-Israel boycott or any other boycott against a friendly government identified by the U.S. government. While such participation would not be an absolute bar, it would be a factor for the agency to consider
“Boycott participation should be an important consideration for our foreign assistance programs,” Sherman said. “We should also take appropriate steps to ensure that our foreign aid beneficiaries, and all of their affiliated companies, are not undermining our foreign policy goals—a certification requirement sanctions policy compliance will be an important enforcement mechanism.
Sherman also raised concerns about whether the OPIC policy of not supporting a project that excludes Armenia, will be carried over to the new agency if the bill is enacted. In a letter, Cameron S. Alford, the Deputy General Counsel of Projects for OPIC, committed to Sherman that the policy would carry over.
In the early 2000s, both OPIC and the U.S. Export-Import Bank supported a product known as the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline that deliberately avoided traversing or serving Armenia. OPIC agreed later in the decade that it would not support such exclusionary projects in the future.