On February 14, the President announced an $81.9 billion supplemental spending request for fiscal year 2005. While most of that amount is for the Department of Defense, it also includes additional funding for international operations, tsunami relief, and other unexpected or emergency needs not covered by the existing budget. For 2005, USCCB and CRS urge Congress to include the following priorities in the Supplemental Appropriations Act:
Support the Presidents request for:
- $200 million for Palestine. This funding level will enable the U.S. to take advantage of a unique moment for moving toward peace in the Holy Land. According to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, these funds would be spent in part for highly visible infrastructure projects in the West Bank and Gaza to assure the disaffected people there that the Abbas government is making progress in meeting their critical needs for economic progress and stability.
- $950 million in immediate relief and longer-term reconstruction programs for tsunami victims.
- $342 million for Sudan. The Presidents request would make available $242 million in humanitarian aid for Darfur as well as $100 million for reconstruction and peace-building in Southern Sudan.
- $780 million for U.S. contributions to international peacekeeping operations. This amount will help support crucial peacekeeping missions in Sudan, Cote dIvoire, Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burundi.
- $185 million for urgent needs in Liberia. Liberia was not included in the supplemental but is in critical need of additional funding for demobilization and reintegration to prevent ex-combatants from taking up arms again. Humanitarian relief and security also require immediate attention.
- $1 billion for Title II food aid programs. Although the Supplemental includes $200 million in food aid for Sudan and tsunami victims, an additional $800 million is needed for food aid crises that have arisen in other parts of the world.
- $50 million for refugee admissions. Although the President authorized the resettlement of up to 70,000 refugees in 2005, sufficient funds do not exist to support this number, and the supplemental does not include any additional funds for refugee admissions.