Friday, July 24, 2009

Something's Brewing in the Senate (Foreign Affairs Committee)

While our advocacy efforts this week and early next week are focusing on convincing our members of the House to cosponsor HR2139, (see details of billl), there is something brewing in the Senate.

Just this past week the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee invited Bread for the World President David Beckmann to testify. He took the opportunity to urge members to push for the introduction of foreign-aid reform legislation in the Senate.

Here are some excerpts:
The draft legislation you (Sen. John Kerry) have now developed with Senators Lugar, Menendez, and Corker is a major step forward. I love the statement of policy. It calls for a reform of USAID and related agencies in order to better serve the U.S. commitment to global development and the reduction of poverty and hunger. Much of your bill is focused on building the capacity of USAID, which is urgently required.

Your bill’s section on transparency is especially important. President Obama has called for an “elevated, streamlined, and empowered 21st century U.S. development agency” that will be “accountable, flexible, and transparent.” The reform of U.S. foreign assistance gives us a chance to create a development agency that will be transparent to all Americans – to encourage public support and involvement in global poverty reduction and to facilitate public-private partnerships.

My main request is that you introduce this bill as soon as possible. Quite a few organizations have helped their networks across the country understand that foreign assistance reform is important to future gains against hunger, poverty, and disease.

These organizations include Bread for the World and many religious groups, InterAction, Oxfam, the ONE Campaign, Save the Children, Women Thrive Worldwide, Mercy Corps, CARE, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, World Wildlife Fund, the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA), the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), the International Center for Research on Women, the International Women’s Health Coalition, theGlobal AIDS Alliance, and RESULTS.

Our coalition also includes opinion leaders at the Center for Global Development, the Center for American Progress, and Brookings. Thus, tens of thousands of people around the country are now informed and eager for a chance to have their say. Once your bill is introduced, they can ask their senators to cosponsor, thus building broad support for this Committee’swork on foreign assistance reform.
Click here to read the full text

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