WASHINGTON D.C. — Bernie Sanders, John Barrasso and Patrick Leahy worked on legislation to garner the support of their constituents. This made them the most popular senators based on their approval ratings in 2019. None of these senators are staunch supporters of foreign aid and policy. However, they each contributed to initiatives connecting global poverty to various other policy areas.
Sanders is an Independent from Vermont. He is currently completing his third term in the Senate, having previously served 16 years in the House of Representatives. Over his combined 24 years in Congress, Sanders voted on many bills in relation to foreign affairs and aid. Notably, he co-sponsored the Harvest for Hunger Bill which provided relief for famine victims in sub-Sahara Africa and continues to vote in favor of aid for Tuberculosis, AIDS, and Malaria.
In general, Sanders believes that the U.S. has a moral obligation to help those in underdeveloped countries. Whether it be to get a proper education or a well-paying job to increase the overall standard of living. One way he actively supports this is through urging the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to call on other international financial institutions to cancel low-income countries’ debt due to COVID-19. Instead of burdening the countries with paying debts, they should be using that money to preserve their people’s health. In combination with his other political agendas, Sanders plays to his constituents. Therefore, ranking number one with an approval rating of 65%.
John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, is also serving his third term in the Senate. He specifically deals with foreign affairs in his committee assignments. Some of those assignments include the Committee for Foreign Relations and the Subcommittee on African Affairs. Additionally, he’s also part of the Subcommittee on European Affairs and the Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance. And finally, there’s also the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere and Global Narcotics Affairs.
Although a part of the Committee of Foreign Relations, he does not seem to vote extensively on foreign affairs and aid bills. However, he was a part of the unanimous vote on the Electrify Africa Act; a bill that passed and has aided 58.5000 million people in gaining electricity. This is not the first time Barrasso took a stance on policies relating to energy.
At the end of 2019, Barrasso spoke to the Senate floor about energy poverty and the need for international banks to invest in affordable energy projects. His call for action stems from The World Bank deciding to only fund renewable energy projects. This concerns him because he believes renewable energy is too expensive. Thus slowing down the efforts to help the 840 million people worldwide without electricity. His strong stance on key issues, in addition to his past work, resonates strongly with his supporters. As a result, his overall approval rating is 64%.
Also with an approval rating of 64%, Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont provides strong support for foreign policy and aid. Similar to Bernie Sanders, Leahy has an extensive career in Congress. Ever since 1974, he has been a Vermont senator.
Like The Borgen Project, Leahy believes that as “the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world” the United States should be doing more to prioritize global well-being, including global poverty-reduction legislation. He thinks that injustices affect not only the countries where they happen but also the U.S.
His work on the Appropriations Committee led to his development of the Leahy War Victim Fund which supports civilians entangled in war. Another initiative started by the Senator is the “Leahy Law.” With this in place, foreign policy and military receiving U.S. aid must not commit human rights violations. On top of that, the law urges the governments of violators to reprimand those actions. Additionally, Leahy encourages the funding for Malaria, AIDS and Tuberculosis. The commitment to his seat in the Senate and to certain issues makes him an ideal politician for Vermonters to continuously elect for 46 years.
Looking Towards The Future
Neither Sanders, Barrasso, nor Leahy was up for reelection this year, and with that in mind, these senators will continue to work on creating policies that follow their beliefs and those of their constituents. Ultimately, the concerns of constituents should matter the most, which gives constituents even more reason to contact Congress to ensure that global poverty-reduction legislation is a priority on any given legislator’s agenda.
– Adrianna Tomasello