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Global Poverty Act of 2007

Location: Washington, DC

GLOBAL POVERTY ACT OF 2007 -- (House of Representatives - September 25, 2007)


Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the gentleman's bill, H.R. 1302, the Global Poverty Act of 2007. We certainly have serious needs and poverty right here in our own country. The suffering of the world's extremely poor, however, is beyond the imagining of most Americans.

Many Americans might be shocked to know just how many men, women and children around the world die each hour of every day simply because they are too poor to obtain food, shelter or basic medical care. While we quite often see the fatal impact of famines or natural disasters, we rarely see the images of the ongoing suffering caused by persistent hunger and chronic poverty.

The bill seeks to better organize the approaches to fighting poverty that are employed by the Agency for International Development and other agencies in our own government. It would seek to accomplish that by calling on the President to create an overall strategy for these efforts.

I note that the sponsor of the bill, my good friend, Mr. Smith from Washington, agreed to an amendment adopted by our Foreign Affairs Committee that made two important changes. First, while referencing foreign aid and debt relief as components of a strategy to address global poverty, the bill now makes it clear that the strategy that the President would draw up would not have to be based on the assumption that the United States foreign aid and debt relief will always continue to rise.

The United States certainly has been generous in its provisions of foreign aid and debt relief. But no one can predict whether those two types of assistance will always rise.

Moreover, to address poverty comprehensively, the President may want to focus on expanding other types of interactions with countries suffering from widespread poverty, such as promoting trade, promoting investment, for example.

The bill, in the amended text before us today, Mr. Speaker, will allow the greater flexibility in deciding what might work best at a given time, in the particular circumstances, rather than insisting that he devise a strategy that assumes that more foreign aid and debt relief are always required.

Secondly, the bill, as amended, requires that the President submit to Congress a report on the implementation of the strategy once every 2 years, rather than once a year, as originally intended. And I appreciate the sponsor of the bill agreeing to that change. The change in the frequency of the reports, of the submission of the reports, Mr. Speaker, will enhance the substance of the periodic reports as significant statements on the progress being made under a global poverty reduction strategy.

Mr. Speaker, it is my hope that Mr. Smith's bill will promote a greater focus on how we might best provide assistance to those in dire poverty overseas, while ensuring a realistic view of the resources and the means available to us to provide such assistance.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of our time.


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