Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Voice Vote in Favor of the Global Food Security Act

Mrs. FISCHER (Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb). Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate now proceed to Calendar No. 393, S. 1252, and that the Casey amendment be agreed to; that the committee-reported substitute amendment, as amended, be agreed to; and that the bill, as amended, be read a third time and the Senate vote on passage of the bill with no intervening action or debate.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the bill by title.
The senior assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

A bill (S. 1252) to authorize a comprehensive strategic approach for United States foreign assistance to developing countries to reduce global poverty and hunger, achieve food and nutrition security, promote inclusive, sustainable, agricultural-led economic growth, improve nutritional outcomes, especially for women and children, build resilience among vulnerable populations, and for other purposes.  -from, April 20
There was no roll call. Instead, there was a voice vote. When the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a major supporter of the initiative, uses the term "unanimous," that means there were only ayes and no nays. From our standpoint in New Mexico, this also means our two U.S. Senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, added their voices to the chorus of ayes. (As a friend who is anti-hunger advocate would say, #hungerfistbump).

Both the Senate bill and  a companion House measure (approved by an overwhelming margin on April 12)  require the President to coordinate the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategy to accomplish the objectives of promoting global food security, resilience, and nutrition consistent with national food security investment plans. The two measures leverage resources provided by organizations, private enterprises, and other countries. In addition, they would improve maternal and child nutrition, especially in the key 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday. The Senate bill would also allow the U.S. to respond quickly to the food needs of communities affected by disaster.
“Today the Senate made important progress toward eliminating inefficiencies in food aid that waste scarce resources and prevent us from feeding millions more people in need around the world more quickly,” said Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, who is chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Without the flexibilities that exist for emergency food aid, responding in places like Syria, where U.S. commodities simply cannot reach, would be impossible," Corker said in a news release. "The Emergency Food Security Program is the model for overall food aid reform, and I am hopeful that with today’s action we will continue building momentum behind that effort.”

“I'm thrilled the Senate came together in a bipartisan way to take an important step towards achieving sustainable food security for those who need it most around the world,” said Sen. Chris Coons, ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “This bill helps sends an important signal about the need to increase flexibility in how we deliver food aid...Through GFSA, the United States is leading the way to improve food security and promote long-term nutrition for communities in developing countries. I look forward to working across the aisle in the future to continue to reform the way in which the United States delivers food aid. More flexibility allows us to reach more people at the same cost.”
"We applaud the Senate leadership for passing this bipartisan legislation,” said Eric Mitchell, director of government relations at Bread for the World, which supported the initiative along with 68 other organizations. “The bill calls for a global food security strategy, similar to the approach used by the Feed the Future initiative. It will affect many of the more than 795 million chronically malnourished people worldwide, including 159 million children.”

“We are excited that both chambers passed their versions of the law with overwhelming bipartisan support. The two bills are nearly identical, reflecting a strong, bipartisan commitment to a vital program,” said Mitchell.

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