Congress – BORGEN http://www.borgenmagazine.com Humanity, Politics & You Tue, 17 Jul 2018 08:30:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.7 Committees on Foreign Affairs and Relations: Duties and Differences http://www.borgenmagazine.com/committees-on-foreign-affairs/ Sat, 14 Jul 2018 14:30:46 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=128283 WASHINGTON D.C. – The two major committees within Congress that focus on ending global poverty and hunger are the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Due to the fact that these committees come from different chambers of Congress, they differ in their practices, goals and methods of passing bills through. Each [...]

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WASHINGTON D.C. – The two major committees within Congress that focus on ending global poverty and hunger are the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Due to the fact that these committees come from different chambers of Congress, they differ in their practices, goals and methods of passing bills through.

Each committee also has different roles in the fight against global poverty. Congress’ committees on foreign affairs divide up the organizations and duties that each must create legislation for, and together, form the foreign relations system of the United States.

The Committees on Foreign Affairs in the House and Senate

The House Foreign Affairs Committee debates and evaluates bills that that impact the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, the United Nations, the enforcement of the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act. It also focuses on the promotion of democracy, peacekeeping and international development.

A few of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s major areas of jurisdiction that aid in the fight against poverty include economic, military, technical and humanitarian assistance to foreign countries, foreign loans, international activities of the American National Red Cross, international law as it relates to foreign policy and the International Monetary Fund.

Congress’ committees on foreign affairs may be different as far as their duties, jurisdictions and areas of interest, but how different are they regarding formation, passing bills and effectiveness?

To find out more about the inner workings of Congress’ committees on foreign affairs, The Borgen Project reached out to Breanna Wright, a professor of political science at Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York. Professor Wright’s areas of expertise are in American politics, specifically Congress, election laws, voting behavior and political psychology.

The Borgen Project: What is the process of forming Congress’ committees on foreign affairs?

Breanna Wright: There are no significant differences in how committee membership is decided for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. In both the Senate and the House, committee membership is determined in very similar ways. In general, the partisan balance of committees reflects the partisan balance of each chamber. Each party creates a Committee on Committees, which is a committee that is created to determine and assign committee membership. After the Committee on Committees assigns members to each committee, the membership assignment made by the Committee on Committees is voted on by their respective party. After the membership assignments are approved by each party, the membership assignments are voted on by the full chamber.

TBP: What is the basic process for the formation of bills within each committee? How likely are they to be passed through?

BW: After a bill gets assigned to a committee, the legislation typically goes to a subcommittee before being considered by the full committee. In the subcommittee, the legislation is marked up and voted on. Once it is voted out of the subcommittee, it goes to the full committee for a vote. In general, most legislation does not make it out of committees. Thousands of bills were assigned to committees in the Senate’s last congressional session and only approximately 500 bills made it out of the committees.

TBP: After bills are passed through each committee, what is the next step?

BW: In the House, after legislation is voted out of a committee, it goes to the Rules Committee. The Rules Committee sets the rules for debate (e.g., how much time is allowed for debate, whether amendments are allowed). Once the rules for legislation are set, the bill can be placed on the legislative calendar and scheduled for debate and vote.

In the Senate, after legislation is voted out of a committee, it is placed on the Senate’s Calendar of Business. There are two options for legislation to reach the Senate floor: through the majority leader via a motion that the Senate proceed to consideration of the bill or through unanimous consent. In general, the Senate prefers to bring legislation to the floor for consideration via unanimous consent due to the threat of a filibuster.

TBP: How much power do committees have over congressional decision making, generally?

BW: Committees have a significant amount of power over congressional decision making. Committees determine what legislation even reaches the House or Senate floor. Committees also have a significant amount of say in what a given piece of legislation contains, although the content of legislation can be modified significantly through the amendment process.


Congress’ committees on foreign affairs are not only in charge of a great deal of legislation that can help end global poverty, but are also instrumental in ensuring that these important bills reach each chamber’s floor for consideration. Thus, these committees are a vital piece of the United States’ role in the international effort to promote peace and prosperity around the globe.

– Theresa Marino
Photo: Flickr

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How the Senate’s Foreign Operations Bill Impacts Global Development http://www.borgenmagazine.com/foreign-operations-bill/ Thu, 12 Jul 2018 08:30:49 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=128203 WASHINGTON – On June 21, 2018, the Senate cleared the FY2019 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act, which allocates funding for different initiatives nationally as well as overseas. The Foreign Operations bill has new implications for efforts to reduce global poverty and increase the quality of life overseas, especially for developing countries. These [...]

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WASHINGTON – On June 21, 2018, the Senate cleared the FY2019 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act, which allocates funding for different initiatives nationally as well as overseas. The Foreign Operations bill has new implications for efforts to reduce global poverty and increase the quality of life overseas, especially for developing countries. These are 10 major ways the Foreign Operations bill works to improve lives worldwide.

Impact of the Senate Foreign Operations Bill

  1. Aid to Jordan
    The Foreign Operations bill allocates $1.5 billion for economic and military assistance to Jordan. This will work to improve the quality of life of citizens affected by war in the region. Additionally, if passed, this bill would supply $50 million in relief and recovery funds to the people of Jordan to assist those that are in the midst of conflict.
  2. Aid to Tunisia
    One of the bill’s highlights is its plan to give $165.4 million to Tunisia for assistance in alleviating the nation’s poverty. Tunisia would also receive $50 million in relief and recovery funds to help those that are in desperate situations.
  3. Aid for Liberation
    The Senate has proposed $250 million in relief and recovery funds for areas that have been liberated from extremist groups such as the Islamic State. These funds aim to help the liberated regions develop and grow democratically. This is part of an effort to prevent extremist groups from being able to overtake vulnerable nations. These funds would go toward strengthening the areas that would be most susceptible to extremist groups in the future, so as to prevent extremist groups from increasing in power.
  4. Spreading Democracy
    The Foreign Operations Bill allocates $2.4 billion to democracy programs that seek to promote democracy in regions that are suffering under oppressive regimes. Additionally, it would supply $170 million to the National Endowment for Democracy, a private, nonprofit foundation that works to grow and strengthen democratic systems globally. These allocations would result in a $91.5 million increase from the FY2018 levels of support for democracy internationally.
  5. Aid for Central America
    The FY2019 bill proposes $515.5 million in assistance to Central American countries. This is part of the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America, which is a bipartisan, multi-year governmental plan. This plan seeks to promote institutional reforms in Central America that address developmental challenges, high rates of violent crime, weak judicial systems and extreme poverty. This proposition sees an increase of $80 million more than the budget request.
  6. Aid for Venezuela
    The bill will allot $20 million for aid to Venezuela to promote democracy and rule of law. This is to support the Venezuelan people, who are largely impoverished under the nation’s current regime.
  7. Assistance for Refugees
    The Senate has planned to assign $3.4 billion to migration and refugee assistance. This will work to protect those impacted by conflict and other disasters, both natural and manmade.
  8. International Disaster Assistance
    The FY2018 level of disaster assistance was $4.3 billion, but this year, the Senate has proposed an increase of $100 million, making the total number of funds allocated to international disaster assistance $4.4 billion.
  9. Global Health Programs
    The Foreign Operations bill includes a total of $8.8 billion for global health programs. This includes efforts to fight malaria ($755 million), HIV/AIDS ($6 billion), polio ($59 million), tuberculosis ($275 million) and neglected tropical diseases ($106 million). Maternal and child health would receive $829.5 million, and $135 million would go to nutrition assistance.
  10. International Security Assistance
    This bill would provide $8.8 billion for counterterrorism and nonproliferation programs ($860.7 million), peacekeeping operations ($477.4 million), international military education and training programs ($110.7 million) and foreign military financing programs ($5.9 billion). These efforts will help nations that are vulnerable to extremist regimes to be able to fight against those that would perpetuate poverty, hunger and oppression in their nations.

The FY2019 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act is currently not yet law. However, if passed, this bill will result in great improvements to the fight against poverty and deprivation worldwide.

– Theresa Marino
Photo: Flickr

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How the BUILD Act Will Benefit the US Economy http://www.borgenmagazine.com/the-build-act/ Sat, 30 Jun 2018 14:30:01 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=127905 WASHINGTON D.C. — In February 2018, Congressman Ted S. Yoho (R-FL-3) introduced the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act. Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA-9), Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) were also involved in the creation and introduction of the bill. Thus, the BUILD Act is a bipartisan effort to [...]

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WASHINGTON D.C. — In February 2018, Congressman Ted S. Yoho (R-FL-3) introduced the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act. Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA-9), Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) were also involved in the creation and introduction of the bill. Thus, the BUILD Act is a bipartisan effort to reform the United States’ foreign aid methods.

The BUILD Act is different from most foreign aid initiatives that the U.S. has proposed in the past, largely due to its focus on investment and its positive impacts on the U.S. economy.

What Is the BUILD Act?

The BUILD Act is legislation that will merge several federal agencies and programs into the International Development Finance Corporation (DFC). The goal of this unification is to change the focus from foreign aid to foreign investment. This means that rather than simply supplying money to developing nations, the U.S. will be investing in developing markets through its private businesses.

What Are the Expected Impacts of the BUILD Act?

This legislation will increase the rate of U.S. corporations and businesses investing in developing countries. These investments will bring great improvements to the economies and standards of living for those in developing countries, as well as infrastructure development, job creation and increased quality of life for many impoverished people all over the world.

How Is the BUILD Act Different from Foreign Aid?

While this legislation will work to have similar impacts to foreign aid, one of the key differences is that the BUILD Act focuses on investments rather than donations. While foreign aid makes huge strides in assisting developing countries continuously, investment can be a long-lasting way to build developing countries’ economies rather than giving out money or resources. This allows the nation to develop its own markets and jobs, which leads to long-term prosperity. In the long term, investments see a lower dependency rate and higher rates of continual, independent progress.

How Will the BUILD Act Benefit the U.S. Economy?

The BUILD Act will help to form a symbiosis between the U.S. and the countries it invests in. American businesses will become directly involved in developing countries through loans and grants for projects that will improve communities. This will lead to the privatization of foreign aid and employ contractors, laborers and others to work in these developing countries.

How Does the BUILD Act Help Private Businesses?

Prior to the introduction of the BUILD Act, private businesses were often unable to invest in developing countries due to the necessity of receiving grants and loans in order to start these projects, which often posed huge economic risks to American businesses. However, the BUILD Act creates a way for businesses to receive this money through the DFC, which is specifically designed for granting loans and other financial investments to American businesses. This will allow them to start and continue to do good work in developing countries.

What Are the Long-Term Effects on the U.S. Economy?

The BUILD Act will function as a free market alternative to foreign aid. This means that American businesses will be encouraged to invest in foreign aid as a way to make a profit and expand their business internationally. This will create thousands of U.S. jobs as new positions open up in businesses that wish to start projects overseas. Additionally, as U.S. businesses gain a higher standing in foreign markets, American builders and developers will need to be employed to create new overseas offices and housing for the influx of employees.

The BUILD Act is a step in the right direction for the U.S. economy, while also functioning to decrease global poverty and hunger. The act functions to maintain and develop the free market into foreign aid ventures, while also finding solutions to international devastation. This bipartisan bill holds a lot of hope for Americans as well as for the fate of developing nations.

– Theresa Marino
Photo: Flickr

To find out more about the past successes of our advocacy work and our current legislative priorities in Congress, head over to our Legislation page.

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Spotlight: Representative Ed Royce Promotes Global Democracy http://www.borgenmagazine.com/global-democracy/ Sun, 24 Jun 2018 14:30:41 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=127945 SEATTLE — The changing dynamics of global politics are bringing forward new supporters of foreign affairs. Most notable is Representative Ed Royce (R-CA-39). He is currently serving his 11th term in Congress representing California’s 39th district. Previously, Royce was chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade and was also a member of the Subcommittee on [...]

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SEATTLE — The changing dynamics of global politics are bringing forward new supporters of foreign affairs. Most notable is Representative Ed Royce (R-CA-39). He is currently serving his 11th term in Congress representing California’s 39th district.

Previously, Royce was chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade and was also a member of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific. However, Royce’s current position as the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and its weekly public hearings on popular global issues have landed him in the spotlight.

Rep. Royce a Passionate Advocate for Global Democracy

Recently, Royce remarked on the importance of promoting global democracy in a changing and dynamic world. Royce reminded U.S. citizens that the country’s longstanding democratic legacy should pave the way for global democracy and that the U.S. should be acting as both a leader and catalyst to help people living in countries with restrictive governments.

“‘Democracy’ is more than just elections. Democracy without the foundation of rule of law, individual liberties, a free press and a culture of tolerance is dangerous populism or mob rule. We’ve seen that in Burma, South Sudan, Gaza and too many other places,” Royce said at a committee hearing regarding the importance of U.S. aid in globalization.

When not promoting democracy, Royce has called attention to the need for the international media to report on government misdeeds and human rights violations worldwide. By exposing repressive governments, countries like China have seen some newfound liberty and tolerance.

Progress Towards Global Democracy

Though democracy statistics look grim on the surface, congressional support from advocates like Royce has helped grow global democracy. According to Freedom House’s annual survey, in 2017, 71 countries suffered declines in political rights and civil liberties, while 62 countries have seen a net increase in civil liberties since 2006.

Despite the slow progress in instituting open democracies, support for global democracy is growing, and Rep. Royce uses this support as a means to spread awareness. In a poll of 38 countries conducted by Pew Research Center, 78 percent of people said that representative democracy is a good thing.

Maintaining national balance and equality while promoting international peace is a specialty of Royce’s. One of the many goals of the Foreign Affairs Committee is to create legislation that benefits the diplomatic community. The committee cooperates with the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Peace Corps and the United Nations to develop methods of promoting global democracy and other important changes for those living in poverty.

Royce has also played a key role in the African Growth and Opportunity Act as well as the Electrify Africa Act, which promoted and developed affordable and reliable energy for sub-Saharan African countries. He plans to continue his legislative work related to economic and political programs that help lift people out of poverty.

– Logan Moore

Photo: Flickr

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How to Help Children Separated from Parents at the Border http://www.borgenmagazine.com/how-to-help-children-separated-from-parents-at-the-border/ Thu, 21 Jun 2018 16:20:44 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=127948 WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, June 20, 2018, President Trump signed an executive order keeping families together after much resistance to the “Zero-Tolerance Policy.” However, the move fails to address how and when families will reunite. Immediate action must be taken regarding family reunification. Below is a breakdown of how to help children separated from [...]

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, June 20, 2018, President Trump signed an executive order keeping families together after much resistance to the “Zero-Tolerance Policy.” However, the move fails to address how and when families will reunite. Immediate action must be taken regarding family reunification. Below is a breakdown of how to help children separated from parents at the border.

“Zero-Tolerance Policy”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the “Zero-Tolerance Policy” on April 6, 2018. According to the Department of Justice, the policy “prohibits both attempted illegal entry and illegal entry into the United States by an alien.”

“If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” Sessions stated at a law enforcement event in Arizona. However, there is no such law requiring children to be separated from parents.

From the policy’s implementation in May up until June 9, nearly 2,300 children have been separated from their parents and are being held in detention centers. These centers  — tent cities, old warehouses, and an old Walmart — subject the children to inhumane conditions. One such facility in South Texas is keeping the children in cages made out of metal fencing, housing up to 20 children in one cage.

Limitations of Executive Order

While the executive order is a start in keeping families together, the family reunification process may be running short on time. The order’s provisions against the separation of families lasts only 20 days. CBS News explains that “after the 20-day mark, children may still be separated from their parents.”

In response to the executive order, The New York Times notes, “The order does not say where the families would be detained. And it does not say whether children will continue to be separated from their parents while the facilities to hold them are located or built.”

In 1997, in Flores vs. Reno, the federal court ruled that unaccompanied, undocumented minors could not be held by the government for more than 20 days. In 2016, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals extended this ruling to accompanied, undocumented minors — children who enter the U.S. with their families. Therefore, it is imperative to pursue further change at the Congressional level in order to realize a more permanent solution to keeping families together.

TIME reported that under the Flores v. Reno settlement, immigration officials must “place each detained minor in the least restrictive setting appropriate.” The settlement also requires the release of minors under the age of 18 if they are not facing prosecution. Children under the age of 18, who have relatives to live with, are to leave the detention centers “without unnecessary delay.”

Yet, migrant families have not been granted immediate release. In fact, parents are given little information of their children’s whereabouts, and in some cases, are told that deportation will lead to reunification. This misinformation has resulted in some parents being deported without their children and with little hope of reunification.

Ways to Continue Keeping Families Together

Although the U.S. has ceased the separation of families, immediate and persistent action is crucial to the reunification of families. Here is how to help children separated from parents at the border:

  1. Call Your Local Congress Member The ACLU recommends directly calling your local Congress members’ offices. Their website will assist callers in finding representatives based on their zip code. A sample message is provided by the ACLU: “Hi, my name is [YOUR NAME] and my zip code is [YOUR ZIP]. I’m asking the Representative to vote NO on Speaker Ryan’s immigration bill. This is an inhumane, unjust bill that will put families in prison camps – we can’t let that be what this country becomes.”
  2. Email Congress In addition to phoning your Senator, email Congressional offices using an online template provided by The Borgen Project. This template will send an email urging both of your Senators, and your Congressional Representative, to fight for the children separated from their parents at the border.  Emailing Congressional leaders is effective because congressional staffers keep a tally of issues raised by constituents. The tallies are added to a weekly report viewed by the Congressional leader; one email could make a difference.
  3. Support The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) The Facebook fundraising campaign called “Reunite an immigrant parent with their child” began on Saturday, June 16 with the initial goal to raise $1,500. As of June 20, the campaign raised an estimated $12 million. A portion of the proceeds from this fundraiser will go toward RAICES, a Texas-based nonprofit organization that aids immigrant children, families and refugees. Under the RAICES Family Reunification Bond Fund, contributions are directed toward funding bonds for the release of detained parents separated from their children.

These steps show how to help children separated from parents at the border and do our part in advocating for those without a voice. The executive order signed on June 20 fails to provide the vital solutions of reuniting children with their parents and outlawing family separation. It is critical to continue to mobilize Congressional leaders until family reunification is realized.

– Christine Leung

Photo: ABC

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The Importance of the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act of 2018 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/global-food-security-reauthorization-act-of-2018/ Sun, 03 Jun 2018 14:30:37 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=127062 WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hunger and food insecurity are serious threats to many all over the world. Food insecurity is defined as a lack of access to affordable, nutritious and abundant food. It occurs in many families either due to a lack of money or lack of accessibility to crops at certain times of the year. [...]

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Hunger and food insecurity are serious threats to many all over the world. Food insecurity is defined as a lack of access to affordable, nutritious and abundant food. It occurs in many families either due to a lack of money or lack of accessibility to crops at certain times of the year. The Global Food Security Act of 2016 was effective in fighting hunger and food insecurity, but many around the world still struggle with these issues. The Global Food Security Reauthorization Act of 2018 will extend the efforts of the original act for another two years.

Why Global Food Security Matters

Across the world, one billion people suffer from food insecurity. Access not just to food, but to healthy, nutritious food is imperative to the development of our world. Food insecurity leads to hunger and disease among impoverished populations, resulting in higher fatality numbers. Therefore, U.S. assistance through the Global Food Security Act greatly benefits citizens of these countries; however, fighting world hunger also benefits Americans.

By fighting world hunger, the U.S. has a stake in what becomes of that nation. Namely, this means fighting terrorism without mobilizing troops. A report by the Rand Corporation concluded that social and economic development decreases loyalty to terrorist groups. In this way, the benefits of the act extend beyond helping the poor.

What the Bill Does

The original Global Food Security Act, introduced by Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), was passed in 2016. The act approved spending $1 billion each year to combat food insecurity. Under President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative, the act reduced hunger across the world by investing in the agricultural practices of developing nations.

Some methods used to fight hunger included increased attention on agricultural growth, increased farmer productivity and improved food quality for women and children specifically. This act can help provide healthy food to those in impoverished countries, spur sustainable economic growth in those countries and improve U.S. national security. The reauthorization of this act will extend it for another two years.

Who Supports the Bill

Senator Bob Casey spoke to The Borgen Project about the importance of the bill. “The need to address global hunger is an urgent national security priority. It is in the United States’ best interest to promote initiatives that work to eliminate the causes of food and nutrition insecurity. My colleagues in Congress should support reauthorization so that we can help the world’s most vulnerable and enhance American security by promoting stability in parts of the world experiencing chronic food insecurity.”

What Needs to Happen for This Bill to Pass

The Global Food Security Reauthorization Act of 2018 was recently passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, giving it a good chance of being passed in the House. It will move onto the Senate, and if it is passed there, President Trump can pass the bill or veto it (a veto can be overridden if two-thirds of representatives and senators support it). The best way to help pass this bill is by contacting congressional leaders via email, letter or phone call and urging them to support the bill.

Ending food insecurity and hunger is an achievable goal. Though it may take time to end these issues across the world, supporting the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act of 2018 is a great step towards ending this issue.

– Olivia Booth
Photo: Flickr

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The AGOA and MCA Modernization Act Passes the Senate http://www.borgenmagazine.com/agoa-and-mca-modernization-act-passes-senate/ Thu, 24 May 2018 08:30:20 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=126745 WASHINGTON, D.C. — On April 11, 2018, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and Millennium Challenge Act (MCA) Modernization Act was passed by the Senate. This bill seeks to expand vital programs currently in place to improve the lives of 11 million people. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, introduced the [...]

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — On April 11, 2018, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and Millennium Challenge Act (MCA) Modernization Act was passed by the Senate. This bill seeks to expand vital programs currently in place to improve the lives of 11 million people.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, introduced the bill co-sponsored by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ). The bill passed in the House on January 17, 2018.

The passing of the AGOA and MCA Modernization Act will work to strengthen U.S.-African trade by providing capacity building training for African private sector leaders while addressing the root causes of poverty and extremism. By providing more flexibility to the AGOA and MCA, this act will expand regional trade opportunities and enhance market access to the U.S. for qualifying sub-Saharan African countries.

Currently, there are more 40 AGOA-eligible African countries. Since the passing of the AGOA in May 2000, market access to the United States has been enhanced, representing 55 percent of total U.S.-bound exports. Under the AGOA, 6,500 products have duty-free access to the U.S. worth $12 billion.

The AGOA and MCA Modernization Act makes the AGOA more effective by encouraging African embassies to promote export opportunities to the U.S. Furthermore, the act urges the president to establish a website with information regarding access to available AGOA benefits.

Furthermore, the Act calls on the president to:

  • Facilitate trans-boundary trade among eligible nations
  • Provide capacity building for African entrepreneurs and trade associations
  • Provide training to promote product diversification and value-added processing
  • Provide capacity building and funding to simplify compliance with U.S. counterterrorism policies for African businesses and institutions

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) provides time-limited grants (called compacts) which fuel economic growth, reduce poverty and solidify institutions. Working to help grow the impoverished countries of the world, the MCC focuses its efforts on nations committed to good governance, economic freedom and investing in their citizens. This means that eligible nations show a strong commitment to human rights and core labor laws. Promoting stability and prosperity not only betters the lives of the African people in these nations, but it also protects American interests by decreasing extremism.

The AGOA and MCA Modernization Act expands the reach and capability of the MCC by authorizing the allocation of more compacts to eligible African countries. By allowing two simultaneous compacts, the AGOA and MCA Modernization Act will promote trade, collaboration and economic integration.

Speaking on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in January 2018, Rep. Karen Bass highlighted the importance of expanding both the AGOA and the MCC through the AGOA and MCA Modernization Act. “The African Growth & Opportunity Act and the Millennium Challenge Corporation have proven track records of spurring economic development. Expanding these programs advances our position as international leaders, strengthens our domestic job market and economy, while protecting our national security interests.”

Through strong advocacy efforts from The Borgen Project and other foreign policy advocates, the AGOA and MCA Modernization Act has passed the Senate and is on its way to the president’s desk to be signed into law. With the past and present success of the AGOA and MCC, the AGOA and Modernization Act will continue to promote economic growth and international trade in African countries, empowering impoverished nations to develop stability and security. The Act will also continue to assist with U.S. efforts to fight terrorism and extremism while rewarding eligible nations for their focus on human rights.

– Kelilani Johnson

Photo: Flickr

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What Is the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act? http://www.borgenmagazine.com/womens-entrepreneurship-and-economic-empowerment-act/ Fri, 18 May 2018 08:30:59 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=126819 WASHINGTON, D.C. — Globally, women and girls face significant obstacles preventing their full participation in society. In many developing countries, women are denied the right to work or own property and are significantly less likely than men to have access to a bank account or loan. Studies have found that when women are empowered to [...]

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Globally, women and girls face significant obstacles preventing their full participation in society. In many developing countries, women are denied the right to work or own property and are significantly less likely than men to have access to a bank account or loan.

Studies have found that when women are empowered to participate in public life, entire economies are strengthened. History has shown that when women are included in peace negotiations and other efforts to prevent and end conflict around the world, their countries are much more likely to enjoy peace and stability in the future. The Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act aims to help women and girls continue to improve their societies.

This bipartisan legislation, which seeks to address gender-related barriers to economic growth and the support of women-led enterprises, was introduced by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues.

Upon the introduction of the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act on April 12, 2018, Rep. Frankel stated, “This bill recognized the imperative of improving the economic condition of women around the world. When we educate girls and empower women with the tools to support their families and add value to their communities’ economy, their nations will be safer, stronger and more peaceful.”

This bipartisan bill aims to accomplish four main undertakings. First, the act makes it U.S. policy to reduce gender disparities related to economic participation and opportunity, strive to eliminate gender-based violence, support women’s property rights and improve the ability of women and girls to actively shape their futures.

For example, one effect of the enactment of the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act is that it would authorize assistance to expand property rights and promote economic empowerment of women, including improving property and inheritance rights.

Evidence from Human Rights Watch work in Zimbabwe has shown how land is a vital asset around the world. The organization has found that equal land and property rights help reduce poverty and lead to the promotion of women’s autonomy, safety, economic growth, agricultural productivity and food security.

The next undertaking of the bill requires that gender-specific considerations and efforts to empower women are integrated throughout all United States Agency for International Development (USAID) programs. The bill will help ensure that efforts are continued by mandating all U.S. government programs overseas to include gender-based goals in their monitoring systems.

It would also make it a legislative requirement that USAID reports on the extent to which its assistance is targeting women and the poor, including information on how such development assistance benefits women. Furthermore, the bill expands support for small and medium-sized enterprises that are owned, managed and controlled by women. Finally, it modernizes USAID’s development assistance toolkit to include such items as financial literacy, technology and other actions that improve property and inheritance rights.

In Chairman Royce’s introduction, he drew attention to the effects this act will have on economies worldwide. “Women are still denied access to basic financial services like savings accounts. Additionally, they face discriminatory legal and regulatory systems, which hold back women entrepreneurs . . . By confronting these barriers women face, we can help lift people out of poverty and drive economic growth — by some estimates adding trillions of dollars to annual global GDP.”

Efforts by the House Foreign Affairs Committee continue to take place to ensure that women and girls around the world are included in, and empowered by, ongoing U.S. investments in diplomacy, development and security. The Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act is one example of this crucial work.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee has passed legislation and held a series of public hearings which highlight and address some unique issues which women and girls face. Some of its most recent legislation includes H.R. 2484, Women, Peace and Security Act of 2017, and H.R. 2408, Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act. Through continued progress, women and girls will have a more inclusive, economically stable and equal world.

– Ashley Quigley

Photo: Flickr

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Support The Reach Every Mother and Child Act This Mother’s Day http://www.borgenmagazine.com/support-the-reach-every-mother-and-child-act-this-mothers-day/ Tue, 15 May 2018 08:30:38 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=126854 WASHINGTON D.C. — Infant, child and maternal deaths are severe problems in this world today, especially for mothers in developing countries. Supporting underprivileged vulnerable mothers across the globe can make a life-saving difference, and one way to aid mothers in need today is to support the Reach Every Mother and Child Act this Mother’s Day. [...]

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WASHINGTON D.C. — Infant, child and maternal deaths are severe problems in this world today, especially for mothers in developing countries. Supporting underprivileged vulnerable mothers across the globe can make a life-saving difference, and one way to aid mothers in need today is to support the Reach Every Mother and Child Act this Mother’s Day.

The Value of A Minute

Setting aside a day solely for honoring mothers and mother figures is a common annual practice for countries all across the globe, and this year, May 13th was the day of celebration for mothers in the United States. Recognizing the strength and support mothers provide can come in several different ways – from appreciating the influence of a mother, grandmother, stepmother, godmother or mother figure, to helping mothers in need around the world.

Although the world has reduced mortality rates for mothers and children under 5 by more than one half since 1990, there is still plenty of progress to be made. Over 16,000 kids under the age of five are still dying every day from pneumonia, dehydration, diarrhea and other preventable and treatable causes. Additionally, every day 800 women die from preventable complications related to childbirth and pregnancy.

Support The Reach Every Mother and Child Act This Mother’s Day

However, with the Reach Every Mother and Child Act, the world is put on a path to save the lives of 600,000 women and 15 million children by 2020, and stop these avoidable deaths altogether globally by 2035. The Reach Every Mother and Child Act is a bipartisan bill that will improve the United States’ approach to providing lifesaving aid to women and children across the globe. The Reach Every Mother and Child Act works with USAID for a comprehensive strategy that puts cost-effective, proven interventions first to prevent tragic deaths of mothers and children.

The bill was first introduced in 2015 by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Chris Coons (D-DE) to strengthen U.S. government efforts to end preventable deaths of mothers, newborns, and young children globally. In August 2017, The Reach Every Mother and Child Act was reintroduced in both the House (H.R. 4022) and the Senate (S.1730).

Future Impact

The bill directs the President to run a five-year strategy towards ending preventable child and maternal deaths in developing nations around the world and guarantee healthy and productive lives by 2030; and provide assistance to carry out the strategy. Currently, 86 Democrats and 60 Republicans of Congress have cosponsored the bill. However, the bipartisan legislation still has yet to pass the House, Senate and be signed by the President — all necessary step for the bill to come into effect.

Take action and support the Reach Every Mother and Child Act this Mother’s Day. Ask members of Congress to support and cosponsor the Reach Every Mother and Child Act here. This bill will help pass this crucial legislation and provide mothers and infants with proper medical care, clean birthing practices, vaccines, nutritional supplements and other basic needs they urgently need to survive.

– Natalie Shaw
Photo: Unsplash

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Five Senators Supporting Foreign Aid http://www.borgenmagazine.com/5-senators-supporting-foreign-aid/ Sat, 12 May 2018 08:30:38 +0000 http://www.borgenmagazine.com/?p=126739 WASHINGTON, D.C. — Although there are many issues that members of Congress cannot agree on, foreign aid has often been considered a bipartisan issue. When the Trump administration suggested a 32 percent cut in foreign aid, it was quite clear that neither party would support this decision and there would continue to be many senators [...]

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Although there are many issues that members of Congress cannot agree on, foreign aid has often been considered a bipartisan issue. When the Trump administration suggested a 32 percent cut in foreign aid, it was quite clear that neither party would support this decision and there would continue to be many senators supporting foreign aid. The following senators, among many others, have expressed their support for foreign aid.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

Patrick Leahy is the senior senator from Vermont and belongs to the Democratic party. He is key among the senators supporting foreign aid that would improve the quality of life around the globe. He is one of the Senate’s most notable advocates for humanitarian foreign aid, actively serving in the Department of State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee for many years.

In response to Trump’s attempt to cut foreign aid, the Senator tweeted, “Slashing foreign assistance would be foolhardy, weakening our leadership and emboldening our adversaries.” According to his website, he believes that foreign aid is essential to the United States’ role as an international leader.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)

The Florida senator is well known for his run as a presidential candidate for the Republican party. When the Trump administration revealed its interest in cutting foreign aid, Rubio expressed his concern both on Twitter and on the Senate floor, stating that foreign aid is not charity and it is crucial to national security.

He said in the Senate, “We understand what a critical component foreign aid and the international affairs budget is to the national security and economic interests and to our very identity.” Rubio had also previously advocated for transparency in foreign aid.

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)

Chris Murphy is a Democratic senator that has served Connecticut since 2013. Although he is one of many senators supporting foreign aid and preserving the budget allocated to it, he goes a step further and says the United States should do more. Murphy wants to double the foreign aid budget over the next five years, saying that the way to protect U.S. national security is by “making unstable peace stable.”

Senator Todd Young (R-IN)

Todd Young is a Republican representing Indiana and among the senators supporting foreign aid. Young was one of the leaders of a bipartisan task force of senators who advocated against the Trump administration’s effort to cut foreign aid.

Young argues that development projects abroad contribute to national security since they will reduce troops being sent to war. “If we want to send our brave troops to war less often, if we want them to come home sooner, then we shouldn’t starve our development efforts the attention that they need,” he said. “We need to ensure that all available tools are optimized as best as possible and that includes development assistance.”

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

Jeanne Shaheen is a Democratic senator representing New Hampshire. She led the bipartisan task force advocating against the Trump administration’s cuts to foreign aid along with Senator Young. In 2009, she co-sponsored the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act to reform foreign aid, and in 2016 she supported the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act sponsored by Rubio.

These senators supporting foreign aid are leading voices in the fight against global poverty. Their work across the political spectrum is vital to continuing the U.S.’s role in helping the world’s poor.

– Luz Solano-Flórez

Photo: Flickr

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