International Affairs Budget

Preserve U.S. Humanitarian Aid

by Tasha Chambers, Communications Associate

As a member of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, ChildFund participated in Budget Lobby Day earlier this week in support of the International Affairs Budget.

Under the direction of Rory Anderson, ChildFund’s external relations director, three ChildFund staff members met with the legislative aides representing the senators who will vote on the budget. Our mission was to encourage support of FY2013 International Affairs Budget and to oppose further cuts to development and diplomacy programs.

mother and children with goats

A family in Kenya's Mashwru District (Jake Lyell Photography)

It was a great opportunity for ChildFund to explain its programs and how they make a measurable difference in the lives of children around the world. We also discussed how U.S. development and humanitarian programs, leveraged with private donors’ financial contributions, help provide lifesaving treatments for disease. All of these outreach efforts reinforce the compassion of the United States.

The good thing is that many senators get the importance of this budget. The not-so-good thing is that senators are struggling to decide exactly where to make cuts to preserve America’s legacy as a leading global power, despite the current financial climate.

While making cuts is a necessary action, the reality is that only 1 percent of government funding goes to humanitarian efforts; even though many Americans believe the percentage is much higher (most guess 25 percent). Ironically, surveys show that Americans believe our foreign assistance should be around 10 percent.

The International Affairs Budget has already been disproportionately cut by 15 percent in the past two years. We cannot let the small percentage that remains get any smaller.

If you agree, then please contact your member of Congress and voice your support for the preservation of U.S. humanitarian aid.

American Values Are Up for a Vote

by Rory Anderson, ChildFund’s Director of External Relations

In the face of historic deficits in the United States, some believe that Congress can balance the budget and rid America of debt if we just cut out spending on foreign aid. This is a myth — federal spending on foreign assistance is a mere 1.4 percent of the total federal budget. Yet the International Affairs budget line absorbed nearly 20 percent of total spending cuts in last year’s budget, and even deeper cuts — of an additional 20 percent or more — are being debated in the Senate later this week.

Don’t be distracted by the rhetoric—a 1.4 percent savings will not balance the budget. What these further cuts will do is jeopardize the future of children around the world who are already lacking the basics of care.

ChildFund and our peer organizations see the International Affairs budget as a strategic, cost-effective investment that leverages both public and private resources to tackle the root causes of poverty, conflict and extremism and respond to global humanitarian crises.

Malnourished children walking in desertAs we have seen recently with our relief efforts in Haiti, and now in the Horn of Africa, America continues to remain a beacon of light and hope for those living in extreme poverty around the world. Feeding a hungry child or helping his or her mother earn a sustainable living represents the best of our foreign policy. Through our aid to others, we are tangibly demonstrating America’s best values. And that builds goodwill for our nation around the world.

But the International Affairs budget is not just about charity; it is a long-term investment in growth at home. Right now, there is much talk in Washington about jobs. Today, one of every five jobs in the U.S. is related to international trade. The health and livelihood programs funded by the International Affairs Budget create these export opportunities for America, contributing to the security of our nation’s economic future. So, a vote in Congress to cut international affairs funding will negatively impact jobs in America.

What is ultimately at stake in the current debate in the Senate this week is American leadership and values, which can be measured by how the most vulnerable among us fare. Poor and hungry people do not have powerful lobbies, but they do have the most compelling claim on our national conscience and common resources.

Cuts to the International Affairs budget are not in America’s strategic interests, they do not reflect American values, and they could actually cost taxpayers more in the long run through more costly military involvement and delayed response to humanitarian crises that ultimately threaten the world’s economy.

If you agree, then please consider contacting your senators, and ask them to protect America’s values and its economic future by opposing any cuts to the International Affairs budget.

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