WHY YOU ARE RECEIVING THIS ALERT: The 2004 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill (H.R. 2800), which includes funding for international relief and development programs, passed the Senate late last week. Since the House has already passed its version of the bill, a conference committee made up of members from both chambers must now negotiate the differences between the two bills.
BACKGROUND: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), in partnership with grassroots networks, have been advocating for a minimum of $18.8 for the 2004 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. In July, the House passed its bill which contained only $17.1 billion. The Senate has now passed its bill which provides $18.4 billion in foreign aid, and includes authorizing language for the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA). USCCB and CRS have urged flexibility in the criteria for determining a countrys eligibility for the MCA in order to allow more of the poorest countries, especially those in Africa, to participate. The Senate language takes this into account by providing access to a portion of MCA funds for a second tier of countries.
The Senate bill provides over $1 billion more in foreign aid than the House, and thus, it is important to urge Senate and House Conferees to retain the Senate level of $18.4 billion in a final conference report.
ACTION REQUESTED: If your Senator and/or Representative is a member of the Conference Committee (see list below), please contact them as soon as possible and urge that they support a final conference report on 2004 Foreign Operations Appropriations that:
- Retains the overall level of $18.4 billion in foreign aid, as approved by the Senate;
- $2.4 billion for effective and morally appropriate programs to combat HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases;
- at least $1 billion for MCA activities which combat poverty and promote human dignity in the worlds poorest countries;
- $976 million for the International Development Association (IDA);
- $40 million for Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA);
- $1.4 billion in development assistance; and
- Ensures that funding for each of these important initiatives is in addition to, and not a substitute for, critical funding for other humanitarian and development programs.
- Includes strong authorizing language for the MCA that focuses on poverty reduction, ensures civil society participation, and creates a second tier of countries eligible to receive MCA funds.
Gerry Flood, Policy Advisor, USCCB, 202-541-3167, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Holst, USCCB, 202-541-3199, email@example.com
Tina Rodousakis, Legislative Network Specialist, 1-800-235-2772 x 7462, Trodousa@catholicrelief.org
Kathy Brown, Community Engagement Director, 1-800-235-2772 x 7232, Kbrown@catholicrelief.org
on the FY 04 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill
Alabama: Sen. Richard C. Shelby; Alaska: Sen. Ted Stevens; Arizona: Rep. Jim Kolbe; California: Rep. Jerry Lewis; Colorado: Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell; Florida: Rep. Ander Crenshaw, Rep. C.W. Bill Young; Hawaii: Sen. Daniel K. Inouye; Illinois: Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., Rep. Mark Kirk; Iowa: Sen. Tom Harkin; Kentucky: Sen. Mitch McConnell; Louisiana: Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Rep. David Vitter; Maryland: Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski; Michigan: Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick, Rep. Joseph Knollenberg; Mississippi: Rep. Roger Wicker; Missouri: Sen. Christopher S. Bond; New Hampshire: Sen. Judd Gregg; New Jersey: Rep. Steven Rothman; New York: Rep. Nita Lowey; Ohio: Sen. Mike DeWine, Rep. Marcy Kaptur; Pennsylvania: Sen. Arlen Specter; South Dakota: Sen. Tom Daschle, Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Tim Johnson; Tennessee: Sen. Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader; Texas: Rep. Henry Bonilla; Utah: Sen. Robert F. Bennett; Vermont: Sen. Patrick J. Leahy; West Virginia: Sen. Robert C. Byrd, Ranking Member; Wisconsin: Rep. David Obey