Now Let's Work for Full Funding
In a July 14 vote characterized by a Treasury official as "amazing," the House passed by a vote of 216-211 an amendment to the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill which increases poor country debt relief by more than 300%--from $69 million to $225 million! Twenty-six Republicans crossed over to provide crucial support for the amendment offered by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).
It's not the end of the road for us -- the Senate approved only $75 million, and we must continue to press for full funding, i.e., $435 million, before this session of Congress is out --but it is a major victory.
Congratulations and thanks to all of you who have been in touch with your Representatives to press for increased debt relief funding. You made a difference! The Catholic Church's support for debt relief featured prominently in the Congressional debate.
The Foreign Operations Appropriation bill will now go to a conference committee to work out differences between the Senate and House versions. Given the momentum generated by the unexpected House vote, it is possible that the conferees will agree on an amount close to $225 million for debt relief, but this would be the maximum. The President is expected to veto the bill that emerges from conference and to cite inadequate debt relief funding as one of the principal reasons. Debt relief funding will then have to be resolved in the final budget negotiations between the Congress and the President which are expected to take place in September, after the August recess.
There will be a host of issues which the Congress and Administration will be working to resolve quickly in September so that members can get off to campaign, and debt relief could still get lost in the shuffle. Thus it is extremely important to continue building as much momentum as possible for full funding of debt relief going into the September session, which begins right after Labor Day.
ACTION: Two key actions are needed at this time:
- Contact (during the August recess) a target list of Congressional leaders and others who may be involved in the final negotiations in the fall.
- Thank those who voted for the Waters amendment and urge them to contact Congressional leaders in support of full funding for debt relief.
Contact the Senators and Representatives listed below, including face-to-face meetings where possible, before September 4 (Labor Day) and urge them to support full funding, i.e., $435 million, for debt relief for poor countries in fiscal year 2001.
(A Senator shown as "supporter of debt relief" is known to support substantial debt relief funding although has not committed to $435 million in FY2001. These Senators and the Representatives listed as "voted for Waters amendment" should first be thanked for their support for relieving the crushing debt burden on millions of the world's poor and then urged to push for full funding of $435 million.)
Trent Lott (R-MS)
Connie Mack (R-FL) (supporter of debt relief)
Phil Gramm (R-TX)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Ted Stevens (R-AK)
Richard Lugar (R-IN) (supporter of debt relief)
Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) (supporter of debt relief)
Chuck Hagel (R-NE) (supporter of debt relief)
Rod Grams (R-MN) (supporter of debt relief)
Thomas Daschle (D-SD)
Patrick Leahy (D-VT) (supporter of debt relief)
Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) (supporter of debt relief)
Joseph Biden (D-DE) (supporter of debt relief)
Christopher Dodd (D-CT) (supporter of debt relief)
Dennis Hastert (R-IL)
Richard Armey (R-TX)
Tom DeLay (R-TX)
Sonny Callahan (R-AL)
Spencer Bachus (R-AL) (voted for Waters amendment)
John Kasich (R-OH) (voted for Waters amendment)
James Leach (R-IA) (voted for the Waters amendment)
Richard Gephardt (D-MO) (voted for Waters amendment)
David Bonior (D-MI) (voted for Waters amendment)
David Obey (D-WI) (voted for Waters amendment)
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (voted for Waters amendment)
Action 2: Thanks to those who voted for the Waters amendment
If your Representative is not among those listed above yet voted for the Waters amendment to the Foreign Operations Bill, we encourage you to:
Write to your Representative thanking him/her for supporting the Waters amendment and asking him/her to urge their colleagues in the House leadership to approve full funding of $435 million for poor country debt relief in fiscal year 2001.
In addition to those listed above, the other Republican members who voted for the Waters amendment are:
189 Democrats (and 1 Independent) voted for the Waters amendment. To save space, the following lists include those Democrats who either voted against the amendment or did not vote. Therefore we ask you to write to your Democratic representative if his/her name does not appear on the following lists:
Voted against Waters amendment:
Did not vote: Clay (MO), Cummings (MD), Forbes (NY), McNulty (NY), Smith (WA), Vento (MN)
For more information, contact: Gerry Flood or Joan Rosenhauer, U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, (202) 541-3199 or Kathy Brown or Kathy Selvaggio, Catholic Relief Services, (410) 625-2220.