April 20, 2004
The Honorable Jim Kolbe
House Foreign Operations Subcommittee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative Kolbe:
On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the bishops' relief and development agency, we write regarding Fiscal Year 2005 Foreign Operations Appropriations. We ask your support for the following requests, which reflect the tremendous needs of the millions of people in Africa and elsewhere whose lives and dignity are threatened daily by poverty and disease:
- A $1 billion increase above current spending levels for core development and humanitarian accounts, with particular attention to the urgent needs in Africa.
- $3.6 billion for morally appropriate, comprehensive programs to combat global HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.
- $2.5 billion for the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), with priority consideration for poverty reduction in the poorest countries.
- Adequate funding for reconstruction and peacebuilding, including $436 million for Sudan. In allocating funds to Liberia, we urge priority attention to basic humanitarian needs, disarmament, and reintegration of soldiers into civil society. We also urge increased funding to address the long-term peacebuilding needs of Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- $927 million for Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) and $50 million for Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA) to meet the needs of an ever-increasing global refugee population.
- $200 million for debt relief for heavily-indebted poor countries.
- Retention of the "Mexico City policy," which prevents our foreign aid program from being misused to subsidize organizations that perform or promote abortions in developing nations, and the Kemp-Kasten amendment that helps prevent U.S. support of coercive population programs.
We recognize that Congress is making budgetary decisions in a difficult fiscal environment this year. However, responding to the needs of our poorest brothers and sisters is not an option, but our moral responsibility. Investing in human development is also a wise path, as fostering hope and prosperity in the poorest countries will help to ensure greater international security and peace.
We thank you for your continued leadership in the fight against poverty and injustice, and look forward to working with you on these important matters over the coming months.
Most Reverend John H. Ricard
Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee
Chairman, International Policy Committee
Catholic Relief Services