Wednesday, June 18, 2008

An email from Obama

An email from Barack Obama regarding a recent letter I wrote to him regarding poverty and the food crisis. -ccyl
Thank you for taking the time to write about hunger and poverty throughout the world. I completely agree that we can and must do more to address the global food crisis.

The rising price of food is causing immense hardship for the world's poorest people. According to the World Bank, an estimated 100 million people may be pushed into deeper poverty and hunger because of soaring food prices. Press reports have described the crippling effects of the high prices and the suffering of those who are most vulnerable, especially young children. The risk of civil unrest is significant in dozens of countries, making this an important global security issue as well.

We cannot afford to let this situation continue. I strongly support an increase in emergency food aid and funding for agricultural and rural development programs to address this crisis. We need to make sure that this assistance is adequate, well-targeted to reach those who are most in need, and well-coordinated within the international community. You may be interested to know that on May 22, 2008, I voted in favor of a domestic spending amendment to the FY08 emergency supplemental appropriations bill, which included $850 million for international food assistance to address the crisis. Similar legislation was agreed to by the House, and the two versions are now being reconciled in conference between the two chambers of Congress. As these deliberations move forward, I will keep your views in mind.

In addition to expanding food assistance efforts, we also have to take step to break the cycle of poverty that makes people around the world so vulnerable to rising prices. Over 1 billion people worldwide live on less than $1 per day, and another 1.6 billion people struggle to survive on less than $2 per day. We need a comprehensive, bipartisan approach to make significant strides in addressing a problem of this magnitude and importance.

Last year, I worked with Senators Chuck Hagel and Maria Cantwell to introduce the Global Poverty Act (S. 2433), which requires the President to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to advance the goal of cutting extreme poverty in half by 2015. Key components of this strategy would be foreign aid, trade, debt relief, and coordination with the international community, businesses, and non-governmental organizations. The bill requires that the President's strategy include specific and measurable goals, efforts to be undertaken, benchmarks, and timetables. The President would also be required to report back to Congress on progress made in the implementation of the global poverty strategy. The bill was reported favorably out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this year.

You may rest assured that I will continue to work with colleagues in the Senate to address global poverty. In the days ahead, I hope you will stay in touch.

Thank you again for writing.


Barack Obama
United States Senator

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