U.S. Senators Barack Obama (D-IL), Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) have introduced the Global Poverty Act (S.2433), which requires the President to develop and implement a comprehensive policy to cut extreme global poverty in half by 2015 through aid, trade, debt relief, and coordination with the international community, businesses and NGOs. Representatives Adam Smith (D-WA) and Spencer Bachus (R-AL) sponsored the House version of the bill (H.R. 1302), which passed the House in September.
"Eliminating global poverty remains one of the greatest challenges we face, with billions of people around the world forced to live on just dollars a day," said Senator Obama. "We can - and must - make it a priority of our foreign policy to commit to eliminating extreme poverty and ensuring every child has food, shelter, and clean drinking water. As we strive to rebuild America's standing in the world, this legislation will not only commit to reducing global poverty, but will also demonstrate our promise and support to those in the developing world. Our commitment to the global economy has to extend beyond trade agreements that are more about increasing corporate profits than about helping workers and small farmers everywhere."
"Poverty, hunger, and disease will be among the most serious challenges confronting the world in the 21st century," Senator Hagel said. "This legislation provides the President of the United States the framework and resources to help implement a comprehensive policy to reduce global poverty. It is the human condition that has always driven the great events of history. This is a responsibility of all citizens of the world."
"America needs to do more to help the 1.1 billion men, women and children throughout the world living on less than $1 a day by helping promote sustainable economic growth and development," said Senator Cantwell. "We need to do more to save lives in the poorest countries. The U.S. needs to implement a real plan to combat poverty on a global scale while also addressing the national security risks extreme poverty creates."
"Arguably no greater problem faces the world than global poverty. Nearly 2.7 billion people live on less than $2 a day and close to a billion people live on less than $1 a day. We have a moral obligation to craft an overall U.S. strategy to decrease global poverty and eliminate extreme global poverty. After introducing this measure in the House for the past several years, I was pleased to see it pass this year with overwhelming bipartisan support. This bill's Senate introduction is a significant step toward it becoming law," Representative Adam Smith said.
For years, America has committed to improving the lives of the world's poorest people. In 2000, the U.S. joined more than 180 countries at the United Nations Millennium Summit and vowed to reduce global poverty by 2015. We are halfway towards this deadline, and it is time the United States makes it a priority of our foreign policy to meet this goal and help those who are struggling day to day.
The Global Poverty Act:
* Declares it official U.S. policy to promote the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty, and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme global poverty in half by 2015.
* Requires the President to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to carry out that policy.
* Includes guidelines for what the strategy should include - from aid, trade, and debt relief, to working with the international community, businesses and NGOs, to ensuring environmental sustainability.
* Requires that the President's strategy include specific and measurable goals, efforts to be undertaken, benchmarks, and timetables.
* Requires the President to report back to Congress on progress made in the implementation of the global poverty strategy.
This legislation is supported by a broad range of groups, including Bread for the World, CARE, Oxfam America, Habitat for Humanity International, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, United Church of Christ, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Borgen Project, United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, RESULTS, and Micah Challenge USA.