April 26, 2005
As you meet to settle differences between the House- and Senate-passed versions of H.R. 1268, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2005, we write on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services to urge you to address the critical needs of the worlds most vulnerable people. While this correspondence focuses on foreign assistance funding, we also urge you not to include H.R. 418, the REAL ID Act of 2005, in the conference report.
In addition, we urge you to:
- Title II Food Aid. Adopt the Senate-approved appropriation of $470 million for critically needed food assistance. Even before the tsunami, severe food aid shortages forced relief agencies such as Catholic Relief Services to cancel some development programs that provide agriculture, public health, and education to thousands of poor people.
- Contributions to International Peacekeeping Activities. Adopt the Senate-passed amount of $680 million for international peacekeeping operations. Such funding is urgently needed to alleviate the conflict and instability that has claimed thousands of innocent lives in Sudan, Cote dIvoire, Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi.
- Sudan and Other Emergencies. Adopt the House-passed amount of $94 million for International Disaster and Famine Assistance and the Senate-passed amounts of $50 million for the African Union and $63 million to assist in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Southern Sudan. Ensure that these funds be available for Sudan and other African humanitarian emergencies and that the $50 million for the African Union not be taken from other peacekeeping or humanitarian funds.
- Haiti. Adopt the Senate-approved appropriation of $20 million to assist the Haitian government in restoring peace, stability and security. As the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti deserves special consideration from the United States, especially during a time of political crisis.
- Refugee Protection. Adopt the Senate-approved funding of $108.4 million for Migration and Refugee Assistance, as well as the Senate Appropriations report language specifying that a portion of these funds is to be used to increase refugee admissions.
- Palestinian Aid. Adopt no less than the House-approved funding level of $200 million for Palestinian assistance -- without the onerous conditions placed on the funding. This funding will enable the United States to take advantage of a unique opportunity to move towards peace in the Holy Land and assure the Palestinian people that the Abbas government is making progress in meeting their critical needs for stability and economic security.
- Tsunami Relief. Adopt the House-approved appropriation of $659 million to fund immediate tsunami recovery and long-term reconstruction.
Most Reverend John H. Ricard, SSJ
Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee
Chairman, USCCB Committee on International Policy
Most Reverend Bishop Gerald R. Barnes
Coadjutor Bishop of San Bernardino
Chairman, Committee on Migration
Catholic Relief Services