The foreign aid bill has finally passed the House and Senate and has been signed by President Clinton.
A highlight of the bill is that it fully funds debt relief for poor countries. This is a tremendous victory, which no one would have expected two years ago when we began this legislative push in earnest. Policy makers involved in this process attribute this victory to the grassroots campaign -- led by the religious groups!! -- that was based on a quixotic belief that we could turn the Scriptural call of Jubilee into concrete commitments on debt by our government.
We in the Catholic community played a key role in this campaign, from helping to draft congressional legislation and sponsoring high-level conferences to finding a hundred different ways to help build a campaign, from key interventions by the Holy Father and our bishops to diocesan programs and letter-writing campaigns through our legislative networks. Congratulations to all!!!
Some Highlights of the Foreign Aid Bill:
DEBT: The bill includes the full package of debt relief we have been seeking!!!!
- $435 M for the U.S. contribution to the Heavily Indebted Poor Country Trust Fund, which will help speed debt relief to 30 of the poorest countries, starting this year.
- Gold sales: the bill authorizes the IMF to spend $800 M from its gold sales for debt relief.
- Conditions: Some of the onerous conditions that we were concerned about were not included in the bill; the bill does include, however, a 24-month moratorium on new market loans to countries receiving debt relief.
MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES. Migration and Refugees assistance was funded at $700 M, $42 M more than the Clinton administration requested.
CHILD SURVIVAL. The bill provides $963 M for child survival and maternal health, $413 M more than the administration requested and $248 million more than this year.
LANDMINES. The bill provides the full $40 M requested for de-mining activities.
Director, Office of International Justice and Peace
U.S. Catholic Conference
3211 Fourth Street, N.E.
web site: usccb.org/sdwp