December 21, 2007
U.S. Global Leadership Campaign Praises Overwhelming Congressional Support for Greater Investments in Diplomacy and Development
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, a record-breaking 186 Members of Congress – 61 Senators and 125 Representatives – from both sides of the aisle urged President George W. Bush to make greater investments in the U.S. International Affairs Budget as the Administration prepares its FY 2009 Federal Budget request. In letters to the President, members of both the Senate and the House called for increased funding for America’s diplomatic, development and humanitarian assistance programs, a fundamental pillar of our national security and foreign relations.
“This is the largest number of Members of Congress ever to call upon the President to submit a robust increase for the FY09 International Affairs Budget and we commend the leaders of this effort,” said George Ingram, President of the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign. “Congress understands it is essential that we address the ongoing global challenges America faces today – from global terrorism and unstable states, to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, poverty, and humanitarian crises – to ensure America’s security, build economic prosperity, and strengthen our humanitarian values.”
Despite the contentious budget stalemate and with the Congressional session quickly coming to an end, this outstanding effort was spearheaded in the Senate by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) and Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), with a record 61 Senators signing the letter. On the House side, Representatives Howard Berman (D-Calif.), Mark Stevens Kirk (R-Ill.), Ben Chandler (D-Ky.), and Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), led the effort to garner 125 Republican and Democratic signatures on the letter to President Bush.
In its final days, Congress approved $34.3 billion for the FY08 International Affairs Budget, representing a 5 percent increase over present spending. Despite this increase, the International Affairs Budget is a mere 1.2 percent of the entire Federal Budget, and 15 percent less in real terms than it was at the height of the Cold War.
“U.S. foreign assistance programs offer relief to the millions of victims of poverty, starvation, and illiteracy found throughout the developing world. By giving these communities in need the tools to target these root causes of terrorism, we also help establish greater stability and security abroad,” Senator Dianne Feinstein said. “We need to do more to ensure America has the tools at its disposal to achieve our national security and foreign policy goals.”
In light of recent calls by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates for “a dramatic increase in spending on the civilian instruments of national security – diplomacy, strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action and economic reconstruction and development,” there is a growing recognition on the part of the Administration and Congress for increased investments in the International Affairs Budget. Greater funding is necessary to improve America’s civilian capabilities and to achieve America’s commitment to building global stability.
“Foreign assistance is at the core of our efforts to help promote global stability, build alliances and meet the challenges of the 21st Century. Given the significant global challenges we face, it is in our interests that we adequately fund programs that address the human condition, including despair and poverty, that lead to global instability,” Senator Chuck Hagel said.
“It is critically important that we increase the International Affairs Budget – both as an expression of U.S. compassion for those in need, and as a means to strengthen our own national security,” said Rep. Howard L. Berman. “This budget includes an array of important programs – from international broadcasting, to educational exchanges, to efforts to combat HIV/AIDS – that contribute to global stability and make Americans safer.”
About the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign
The U.S. Global Leadership Campaign (USGLC) is a broad-based, nationwide coalition of businesses, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and community leaders that advocates for a strong U.S. International Affairs Budget. Members of the USGLC – a vibrant, influential network of 400 organizations and thousands of individuals – engage policymakers in the nation’s capital and educate the public around the country to build support for these essential programs.
The International Affairs Budget provides America with the fundamental tools to meet the global challenges of the 21st century and is critical to protecting our national security, building economic prosperity, and strengthening humanitarian values. For more information, visit www.usglc.org.
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