WASHINGTON, D.C. — Before passing the short-term 2017 fiscal year budget, President Trump proposed a 28 percent cut to the State Department. Understanding the grave impact of this cut on the International Affairs Budget, including USAID, 43 senators supporting foreign aid signed a letter summarizing its importance. This letter was addressed to ranking members of the Senate Budget Committee and Appropriations Committee.
The letter explains how the International Affairs funding helps stabilize the world and secure the U.S. While military forces are needed to win on the battlefield, many acknowledge that lack of opportunity, insecurity and hopelessness can enable terrorism to consume unstable communities. Foreign aid can amend these injustices by strengthening foreign governments and communities, improving foreign economies and livelihoods and relieving humanitarian crises.
The letter cites past lessons from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and argues that as national security threats increase, our foreign aid must increase. Many of the senators signing their names were well-known progressive politicians expected to advocate for the world’s poor, however, many may be less well known. Here are three of those senators and what they’re all about:
- Susan Collins (R-ME)
Collins chairs the Senate Select Committee on Aging and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee. She also serves on the Intelligence Committee and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
Collins has sponsored numerous bills that have funded programs for disadvantaged U.S. populations, such as HIV/AIDS patients, veterans, seniors and children. Collins also sponsored the Reach Every Mother and Child Act 2015, a bill recently introduced in the Senate. This bill creates an agenda to reduce maternal and child mortality in developing nations. The bill requires the president to set up an administration in USAID to oversee funding and reduce avoidable deaths of mothers and children
- Chris Coons (D-DE)
Coons serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee and the Ethics Committee.
While many of Coons’ sponsored bills are resolutions advocating for wildlife preservation, he has consistently cosponsored global poverty-reducing legislation. Coons cosponsored the Electrify Africa Act and the Global Food Security Act, both enacted in 2016.
Coons is also cosponsoring poverty-fighting bills currently in the Senate, including the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act, the African Growth & Opportunity Act and Millennial Challenge Corporation Modernization Act, the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act and Collins’ Reach Every Mother and Child Act.
It should be noted that as one of the senators supporting foreign aid, Coons has voiced his opinion before. After a trip to a Ugandan refugee camp, he and Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) went on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to speak about these refugees’ pain and explain how helping is the right thing to do.
- Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Isakson chairs the Senate Ethics Committee and the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He also serves on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, the Finance Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee.
While Isakson’s sponsored legislation covers a variety of issues, he has cosponsored all the aforementioned legislation except the Reach Every Mother and Child Act. He has consistently taken an interest in foreign affairs as demonstrated by his tenure on a variety of foreign relations subcommittees and his public statement approving the nomination of the USAID administrator Mark Green.
Many politicians and other members of government believe that foreign aid is an important part of U.S. foreign policy. While foreign aid has been in the recent news due to the outcry against cuts, it is an issue of continual concern. Fortunately, Collins, Coons and Isakson are senators supporting foreign aid and are passionately fighting on for the world’s poor.
– Mary Katherine Crowley