July 15, 2003
The Honorable Bill Young
Chairman, House Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
I write to urge you to support increasing our nations funding to meet critical development and humanitarian needs in the poorest countries. The recent markup of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations is not enough to permit the U.S. to meet these objectives.
The Subcommittees appropriation fails to provide adequate funding for a number of new initiatives, specifically the Global AIDS initiative and the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), as well as existing programs which are critical to maintaining and reinvigorating Americas role as a partner in building safer, more stable and democratic societies. The $18.8 billion the President requested for foreign assistance in FY04 is the minimum Congress should appropriate.
The U.S. Catholic bishops urge you and your committee colleagues to preserve funding for the core development accounts as well as the amount appropriated for HIV/AIDS and provide $1 billion in emergency funds of for HIV/AIDS in order to meet the U.S. commitment to provide $10 billion in new funding over the next five years. In addition, we urge the Committee to increase funding for the MCA from $800 million to $1.3 billion in FY04 as the President requested. These programs are not only a wise investment in our national priorities, but matters of moral responsibility that will contribute to a safer, more just and peaceful world. Providing an increased level of funding will reverse a decade of decline in U.S. development aid and of shifts in funding towards strategic interests and military spending.
We urge the Committee to appropriate $927 million for the Department of State's Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) account and $50 million for the Department's Emergency Refugee Migration Assistance (ERMA) account for fiscal year 2004. This funding is urgently necessary in order to meet the needs of an ever increasing global refugee population. This level of funding would help restore the role of the United States in leading the world in refugee protection.
Finally, we would like to reiterate our strong support for retaining the Mexico City policy, which prevents our foreign aid program from being misused to subsidize organizations that perform and promote abortions in developing nations under the guise of family planning. The Kemp-Kasten appropriations rider preventing support for organizations involved in coercive population programs should also be retained.
We hope that your Committee can find a way to prevent the foreign operations budget from shrinking at a time when the needs are so great and U.S. involvement in and commitment to international development is so crucial to our national security and world stability.
We appreciate your leadership in helping alleviate poverty in developing countries. Thank you for your consideration of our request.
Most Reverend John H. Ricard
Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee
Chairman, International Policy Committee