Global Action February 2010

Take Action! Urge Your Senators and Representatives to Weigh In on Foreign Aid Funding Priorities

Download the Microsoft Word Version

At the Millennium Summit in 2000, the U.S. pledged support for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to cut extreme poverty and hunger in half by 2015. While President Barack Obama has promised to present a plan to achieve the MDGs at a special United Nations summit this fall, there is still tremendous work to be done to generate the funding to achieve these goals. This will require renewed political will to meet the health, economic opportunity, and education needs of the world’s poorest.

The foreign aid funding bill, known as the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, is the most important annual opportunity to increase resources for improving the health and livelihood of the poor. This legislation provides funding for lifesaving, community-stabilizing international health programs, basic education, microfinance, and other development assistance. Each and every member of Congress can have an important voice in shaping this bill by writing to and speaking with committee leadership before they begin drafting the spending legislation. If our members of Congress express support for our critical priorities, it will help build momentum and allow the committee leaders to be bolder.

Write letters to your members of Congress, urging them write to and speak with the committee leaders who determine foreign aid funding priorities — the chair (from majority party) and ranking member (from minority party) of the House and Senate Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittees. Ask for their support for global health, economic opportunity, and education in Fiscal Year 2011.

Take Action! Write a Letter to Your Senators and Representatives

1. Introduce yourself as a RESULTS volunteer and a constituent. Acknowledge any actions that your member has already taken to support our work or other actions on poverty and thank him/her.

2. Urge your representative/senator to write to and speak with the chair and ranking member of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee in support of key anti-poverty priorities in the FY11 foreign aid funding bill. Many members of Congress submit requests to the Appropriations Committees, so ask that these programs be included among their priorities.

Foreign Operations Subcommittee leadership

House: Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY); ranking member Kay Granger (R-TX)

Senate: Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT); ranking member Judd Gregg (R-NH)

3. Sample Letter:

Dear Senator/Representative____________:

Members of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee will soon be considering spending levels for life-saving global development work for the Fiscal Year 2011 foreign aid spending bill. I am writing to request that you write to the leadership of this subcommittee and ask that they include the following funding levels in their bill. I believe these funding levels represent both compassionate and pragmatic foreign aid requests.

In the area of Global Health, please include $1.75 billion for the multilateral Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and $650 million for bilateral efforts to control tuberculosis.

In the area of Economic Opportunity, please include $500 million for microfinance and microenterprise programs, with at least fifty percent benefiting the very poor as directed by the Microenterprise Results and Accountability Act of 2004.

In the area of Education for All, please include $2 billion in basic education assistance.

4. Request a reply and include all of your contact information. If you don’t know the aide that handles foreign aid, call the office and ask. Please e-mail and fax your letter if possible. Call and make sure the aide that handles these issues received your letter. For contact information, go to the RESULTS website: http://capwiz.com/results/dbq/officials/.

Navigating the Appropriations Process

There are a number of steps you can take to help make your appropriations request successful.

1. Check the deadline. The Appropriations Committees have set deadlines of March 19 (House) and March 26 (Senate) to receive requests from members of Congress. This means that most congressional offices set their own internal deadlines for appropriations requests well before these dates. Most members of Congress have set submission deadlines sometime in February. Ask your congressional offices about their deadlines so you can submit your request beforehand.

2. Check the form. Members of Congress receive many appropriations requests. To standardize this process, some members of Congress have special paper or online forms. Check your member of Congress’ web site or call to see if there is a form to complete.

3. Schedule a meeting. Sending a letter is an important way to show support, but a meeting with your member of Congress or their staff can separate your request from the pack and demonstrate the depth of support for poverty-focused foreign aid.

4. Follow up. After your request is submitted, follow up with the appropriate foreign policy legislative aide to see if he/she requires any more information to complete the request. Tell the aide that you would like to know if your requests get included in the congressperson’s request to the appropriators and ask how and when you can find that out.

Learn about the budget and appropriations process.

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

FY11 Request: $1.75 billion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. The multilateral Global Fund is one the most effective tools to fight AIDS, TB and malaria. Since its creation in 2001, the Global Fund has provided over 2.5 million people with treatment for AIDS, 6 million people treatment for tuberculosis, and helped distribute 104 million mosquito bed nets to prevent malaria. It has save an estimated 4 million lives. The U.S. contribution to the Global Fund is particularly critical this year because it will influence the amount that other donor commit. In November 2010 international donors will meet for a replenishment conference and make multi-year funding commitments. If the U.S. — the Global Fund’s biggest contributor — does not substantially increase its contribution, there will be little pressure on other countries to give more.

Tuberculosis

FY11 Request: Provide $650 million for scaling up critical U.S. supported efforts to control TB. In 2008, the passage of the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde U.S. Leadership Act Against AIDS, TB and Malaria authorized $4 billion in bilateral (country-to-country) TB funding over five years. To reach this authorized level, Congress must begin to scale up TB funding as envisioned in this historic legislation. TB — the world’s deadliest curable infectious disease among adults — kills 1.8 million people each year. People living with HIV/AIDS are particularly susceptible to TB infection. The rise of drug-resistant strains of TB is a result of a lack of investment in effective TB control programs, and is a threat to U.S. public health.

Economic Opportunity

FY11 Request: Provide $500 million for microfinance and microenterprise programs, with fifty percent benefiting the very poor as directed by the Microfinance Results and Accountability Act of 2004. Microfinance is a successful, economically sustainable tool to help the very poor (those living on less than $1.25 a day) lift themselves out of poverty and improve the lives of their families. Public funding is critical to reaching the poorest and most marginalized. Despite the high poverty levels and need for financial services in Africa and Asia, these regions receive only six and seven percent of foreign private-sector investment in microenterprise, respectively. We must expand our investment.

Education for All

FY11 Request: Provide $2 billion for basic education funding. Education is one of the most effective ways to fight poverty and disease and promote democracy and development. In much of Africa and in many other poor countries, school fees, and other costs create enormous barriers to accessing education for the poor, girls, the orphaned, and other vulnerable children. Substantial funding from the U.S. will help build momentum toward the creation of a Global Fund for Education to accelerate progress toward universal schooling (MDG #2) by 2010.

Wish List Memo

The members of the House or Senate Foreign Ops Appropriations Subcommittee (foreign aid subcommittee) submit “wish list” letters to their chairman and ranking minority member (the key decision-makers). Wish list letters allow members to weigh in on their key funding priorities.

RESULTS urges grassroots to pass along our “wish list” memo to their representatives and senators, especially those on this key subcommittee. This memo contains our FY11 requests and background information on the issues.

Pass along our Wish List Request Memo (download this Word doc) to your members today!

For assistance in completing your appropriations requests, contact John Fawcett ([email protected]) or Jennifer Maurer ([email protected]).