Action Alert from US Conference of Catholic Bishops & Catholic Relief Services

July 24, 2012

Careless Cuts Cost Lives
Tell Congress to protect the poor and vulnerable overseas as they finalize spending for Federal Fiscal Year 2013

Currently, Congress is making important decisions about how much funding to make available for programs such as global polio vaccines and many other programs that are saving and changing lives around the world. The House and Senate Appropriations committees each passed their versions of this budget in May.  Thanks to youand thousands of other Catholics throughout the country - poverty-focused  international assistance supported by the U.S. Conference  of Catholics Bishops and Catholic Relief Services was spared  from drastic cuts in the Senate. While we’re encouraged by this small victory, the legislative process continues and so does our work. Our advocacy efforts are needed this summer to support the tiny portion of the U.S. budget that saves millions of lives and fosters long-term development globally by providing emergency food to the hungry, shelter to refugees, helping small farmers grow more crops, educating children, vaccines, health programs and more.

We know that our nation’s fiscal challenges are significant. However, poverty-focused international assistance makes up less than 0.5% of the U.S. federal budget. Cutting this assistance will not balance the federal budget and could harm the world's poorest people.

Before the start of the fiscal year (October 1), Congress will likely vote for a continuing resolution to continue funding the US government. We must ensure that poverty-focused accounts remain at least at 2012 levels during that process.

During the Lame Duck session (after the elections), Congress will make a series of decisions about tax extensions, deficit reduction, and appropriations for Federal Fiscal Year 2013. With so many fiscal pressures pending, members of Congress must be reminded to protect poverty-focused foreign assistance funding. We support the funding levels in the Senate appropriations bill (as passed out of full committee)in any final legislation.

We have heard the Lord's command, "Love your neighbor as yourself." In our linked and limited world, loving our neighbor has global implications. In faith, we know our neighbors live in Rwanda and Sudan, in East Timor and China and Central America as well as across our country and next door. Baptism, Confirmation and continuing participation in the body of Christ call us to action for "the least among us" without regard for boundaries or borders. We look at every budget proposal from the bottom up - how it treats those Jesus called "the least of these". Budgets are moral documents, and how we reduce future deficits are historic and defining moral choices. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)

Please contact your member of the U.S. House of Representatives during August. To find your Representative's name and address/phone/email: -- click on "Find Your Representative"

I urge you to ask House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor to protect international poverty-focused humanitarian and development assistance at the funding levels passed in the Senate appropriations bill. These accounts, which fall under the 1-5-0 account in the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs appropriation bill, provide emergency response to the world’s most vulnerable people and help others to break out of poverty.