U.S. Senators Barack Obama (D-IL), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) today hailed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's passage of 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. This legislation was introduced in December. Smith and Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) sponsored the House version of the bill (H.R. 1302), which passed the House last September.
"With billions of people living on just dollars a day around the world, global poverty remains one of the greatest challenges and tragedies the international community faces," said Senator Obama. "It must be a priority of American 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 important bill will demonstrate our promise and commitment to those in the developing world. Our commitment to the global economy must extend beyond trade agreements that are more about increasing corporate profits than about helping workers and small farmers everywhere. I commend Chairman Biden and Ranking Member Lugar for supporting this bill and moving it forward quickly."
"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."
"Global poverty directly impacts our national security. We must rally private sector and government resources to eliminate extreme global poverty and to fight global disease." said Senator Cantwell. "With more than 1.1 billion men, women and children throughout the world living on less than $1 a day, it is of the utmost importance to make sure these people get the help they need and push for sustainable economic growth. We need to do more to save lives in the poorest countries and extend our hand to people in need."
"Global poverty is one of the greatest moral and security challenges facing the world today. Nearly 2.7 billion people live on less than $2 a day and close to a billion live on less than $1 a day. This bill represents a major advance in our effort to address global poverty. After introducing this measure in the House for the past several years, I am pleased to see the Senate Foreign Relations Committee take significant steps toward its final passage," Congressman 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.
The legislation is supported by a broad range of groups, including Bread for the World, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, CARE, Oxfam America, Habitat for Humanity International, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, United Church of Christ, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Borgen Project, United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, RESULTS, Micah Challenge USA, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.