Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Urgent Action: Don't let the Senate cut the International Affairs budget!

Bread for the World and RESULTS are both asking for our help NOW! Please read on...
Please call Senators Durbin and Burris by noon Eastern Time, Thursday, April 2, at 1-800-826-3688. Ask your senators to support the Kerry-Lugar amendment to restore $4 billion to the International Affairs Budget and oppose any further cutting amendments.

[Note: This toll-free number will connect you to the Capitol switchboard, where you will ask to be connected to your senator's office in order to leave your message.]

The budget resolution is the first step in the congressional decision-making process on the federal budget. The president submitted his request for the fiscal year 2010 budget in mid- February. His budget request included $53.8 billion for the International Affairs accounts, including foreign assistance. The president's budget includes items that have previously been categorized as "emergency spending" into the base budget, making this a $4 billion increase over the 2009 levels.

After the president submits his budget proposal, the Senate and the House Budget Committees develop separate budget resolutions. The budget resolution makes changes in tax policy and mandatory spending (i.e. Medicare, Social Security) and sets a ceiling for the total amount of discretionary spending (i.e. health research, defense, foreign assistance). The resolution provides guidance to the Appropriations Committee on the amount each area of discretionary spending should receive.

Last week, the two budget committees finalized their respective resolutions. The Senate Budget Committee's recommendation would flatline the International Affairs budget at last year's level of $49.8 billion and provides no increase despite the increased challenges developing countries are facing with the global economic crisis and continuing high prices for food.

The Kerry-Lugar amendment would restore $4 billion to the International Affairs budget in the Senate Budget Resolution to bring it in line with the president's request. Your senators' support for the amendment is crucial. Ask them to also vote against any amendments that may come to the Senate floor seeking to further cut this important area of the budget.

This first step in the fight over the International Affairs budget is a critical one to let us we keep our promises to help the world's poorest people. Later, we'll work to make sure that a significant portion of the International Affairs budget goes to the programs that are making a real difference in the developing world. But that fight will be much more difficult if we don't get a high level of funding here and now.

[Note: We are not targeting the House for action at this time because their floor process does not allow for this kind of amendment.]

The International Affairs budget is essential to building hope and opportunity around the world. The current FY 2010 Senate budget resolution shortchanges this important work. Please support the Kerry-Lugar amendment to restore the funding to the International Affairs account that was cut in the Budget Committee.

Key points:

Vote for the Kerry-Lugar amendment and oppose any cutting amendments.
In addition to supporting vital diplomatic efforts around the world, the International Affairs budget also supports effective programs focused on poverty reduction by improving agriculture, nutrition, health, water and education systems.
The U.S. should not shortchange these critical programs affecting millions of poor and hungry people around the world, especially in these difficult economic times.

Calls completed by: Noon on Thursday, April 2. But the sooner, the better as the vote can come at any time!

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