SEATTLE — A future where mothers and their children no longer face the threat of preventable death is on the horizon. Thanks to increased bipartisan support in Congress the Reach Every Mother and Child Act of 2015 shows promise of making it through committee.
Also known as the Reach Act, this legislation aims to end preventable maternal and child deaths in developing countries with the assistance of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
To date, 79 Democrats and 56 Republicans have co-sponsored this legislation in the U.S. House; nine Democrats and eight Republicans have co-sponsored this legislation in the Senate.
Supporting and co-sponsoring legislation is not a task to be taken lightly. Congressional leaders carefully weigh the pros and cons before voicing their support for any legislation. Fortunately, the Reach Act has some prominent names in Congress advocating on its behalf.
The Borgen Project contacted the offices of five congressional leaders to learn why the Reach Every Mother and Child Act is a bill that deserves to become a law.
Senator Susan Collins
Sen. Collins (R-M.E.), ranks nineteenth in Senate seniority and is the most senior Republican woman according to her biography. Elle Magazine named her one of the ten most powerful women in Washington, D.C. in 2014 and cited her as one of the “crucially important (and increasingly rare) bipartisan players.” Collins introduced the Reach Act (S. 1911) on July 30, 2015.
Why do we need the Reach Act? While progress has been made in improving the health of mothers and children, it is a tragedy that so many preventable deaths still occur, especially given that life-saving maternal and child health programs are well-known and cost-effective. These life-saving interventions include proper medical care, clean birthing practices, vaccines, nutritional supplements, hand-washing with soap and other basic needs that are elusive for far too many women and children in developing countries.
How will the Reach Act help mothers and children? Our legislation would strengthen U.S. government efforts to end preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and young children in the developing world. There are simple, proven and cost-effective interventions that we know will work if we can reach the mothers and children who need them to survive. This bill will also allow us to leverage greater investments from other parties, including the private sector, partner governments and multinational organizations.
Senator Christopher Coons
Sen. Coons (D-D.E.), is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Specifically, Coons sits on several subcommittees including the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy, Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity policy and the Subcommittee on State Department and USAID Management, International Operations and Bilateral International Development. Coons is the original co-sponsor of the Reach Act in the Senate.
Why do we need the Reach Act? I first came to understand the significant – and too often tragic – difference in maternal and child health care when I volunteered with a health organization in Kenya during college. We have made great strides in saving moms, babies and kids in some of the poorest parts of the world, but still far too many children are still dying from preventable causes.
How will the Reach Act help mothers and children?
When it comes to critical care for pregnant women, newborns and kids, we know what needs to be done to help ensure safe deliveries and prevent maternal and child deaths. The Reach Act will build on the significant progress already made by scaling up interventions to have a larger short and long-term impact and building new partnerships with the private sector to make real the goal of ending preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths by 2035.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Rep. Lee, (D-C.A.) is a member of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee and serves on the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee, Military Construction, Veteran Affairs and Related Agencies Subcommittee and State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee.
She has authored or co-authored every major piece of HIV/AIDS legislation including the legislative frameworks for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria according to her biography.
The U.S. House version of this legislation (H.R. 3706) was introduced to the U.S. House by Rep. David Reichert (R-W.A.), with the support of Rep. Barbara Lee (D-C.A.), on Oct. 7, 2015. Reps. Betty McCollum (D-M.N.) and Michael McCaul (R-T.X) are also original co-sponsors of this legislation.
How will the Reach Act help mothers and children?
In the past fifteen years, we have seen great success in decreasing mortality rates for mothers and children. As a global community, we have cut maternal and child mortality rates in half. This stands as a testament to the power of global cooperation, international development and bipartisanship, said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, to the 70th U.N. General Assembly.
While we have made progress, our work is far from over. Each year, more than 1 million babies die on their very first day of life, many from preventable causes. We can and must do more to stop these unnecessary deaths. That is why I am proud to be a co-author of the bipartisan REACH Act. This legislation, once passed, will save lives while creating a better world for millions.
Congressman Tom Emmer
Rep. Emmer (R-M.N.) serves on the U.S. House Financial Services Committee as well as the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee and the Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee.
Emmer co-founded the Congressional Somalia Caucus with fellow Rep. Keith Ellison (D-M.N.) in June 2015 in order to advocate for the large Somali populations they represent and to ensure Somalia receives the tools to provide safety and economic opportunity according to a statement to MinnPost. ”
He also lends his support to the Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Turkey and South Sudan Caucuses according to his biography. Emmer co-sponsored the Reach Act on Dec. 15, 2015.
Why do we need the Reach Act? When I traveled to Kenya and Ethiopia last year, I saw firsthand the incredible impact our technical and humanitarian assistance has in emerging nations. In the face of constrained federal spending, tackling the plague of global poverty requires a whole-of-government approach that is results focused and integrates financing and expertise from Congress, the Administration, NGOs and public-private partnerships.
How will the Reach Act help mothers and children? By increasing focus on impoverished nations, addressing maternal and child mortality, investing in women’s empowerment, creating accountability and metrics for success, using evidence-based methods and expanding access to health services; we can bring about drastic improvements in healthcare, infant mortality, our national and international security. I’m proud to be a cosponsor of the Reach Every Mother and Child Act and will continue to focus on these efforts in Congress.
Senator Kelly Ayotte
Sen. Ayotte (R-N.H.) serves on the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, Budget Committee, Commerce Committee, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee according to her biography.
Glamour Magazine cited Ayotte as one of five congresswomen who could be the future of the Republican Party in 2016 and mentioned that she is the second youngest female senator in the current Congress. Ayotte co-sponsored the Reach Act on Mar. 1, 2016.
How will the Reach Act help mothers and children? The Reach Every Mother and Child Act will make important reforms to the U.S. Agency for International Development as well as bring public and private resources together to help improve the health of mothers and children worldwide, especially in countries with higher risks for maternal and newborn deaths. This bipartisan legislation would make a meaningful difference as it strives to eradicate preventable maternal and child deaths by 2035, and I was pleased to cosponsor it so we can better care for our fellow humans around the world.
The Borgen Project along with other organizations continues to build support for this bipartisan legislation which will help save the lives of 600,000 women and 15 million children by 2020.