Pax Christi USA has signed onto this letter being circulated by InterAction and sent to members of the Congressional budget conference committee.
As you look to the budget decisions before you over the coming weeks, we write to urge you to protect lifesaving humanitarian assistance and poverty-focused development programs and to replace sequestration with a balanced deficit-reduction plan. Discretionary spending, and the International Affairs Budget in particular, has already received drastic cuts in recent years. Congress must not further reduce funding for programs that demonstrate our nation’s commitment to alleviate extreme poverty and ensure our economic growth and our national security.
Through U.S. efforts to combat poverty around the globe, we have made incredible strides in the last several decades to help people improve their lives and create a more stable, prosperous, and peaceful world. In the last two decades, the number of chronically hungry people in the world has fallen by a third; child deaths have been cut by 47%. Nearly 6 million people receive lifesaving antiretroviral treatment due to PEPFAR programming. More than 100 million children receive a set of basic immunizations each year, and tens of millions more receive supplemental immunizations against polio, measles, and other killer diseases. And, throughout that period, the U.S. has played a leading role in providing humanitarian relief, from the 2004 Asian tsunami to the deepening Syrian humanitarian crisis, where an estimated 6.8 million people require life- saving aid.
However, sequestration is taking a harsh toll on international aid programs around the world. Experts predict that HIV/AIDS treatment for over 162,000 people will not be available. Two million fewer people will have access reduced or denied to lifesaving food aid. Over 2.7 million fewer children annually will have access to quality primary school education. We must put an end to these unrealistic and ill-conceived cuts and replace them with a balanced and deliberate deficit reduction plan.
Congress must now enact a responsible FY2014 budget that replaces sequestration with a balanced plan that recognizes the significant cuts already made to discretionary programs and to the international affairs budget in particular. We urge you to protect lifesaving humanitarian assistance and poverty-focused development programs and to replace sequestration with a balanced deficit-reduction plan.