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November 10, 2003
The Honorable Ted Stevens
Chairman, Committee on Appropriations
Washington, D.C. 20510
On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services, we wish to offer a number of considerations on matters of vital interest to the world’s poor as the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill proceeds to conference.
We are very pleased with the direction of the Senate bill which provides $18.4 billion for foreign aid, including $2.4 billion to combat HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, and $1 billion for the Millennium Challenge Account. The House bill contains significantly less funding for the critical HIV/AIDS and MCA programs and falls well short of the Senate bill in many other areas.
Consequently, we urge you to do all you can to assure that the conference report includes the Senate-approved amounts for HIV/AIDS and at least $1 billion for the MCA. We hope that it is still possible to increase the MCA to the $1.3 billion that the President has requested. We also urge that the conference report include the Senate-approved amounts for the World Bank’s International Development Association ($976 million), Development Assistance ($1.4 billion) and Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance ($40 million).
Funding for each of the above initiatives should be in addition to, not a substitute for, current funding levels for other health, development and humanitarian assistance programs. Meeting these national commitments to the poor in our world is not just a matter of dollars, but one of moral responsibility.
With respect to HIV/AIDS, we urge you to seek a more effective and morally responsible global health program by:
With respect to the MCA, we ask your leadership in assuring that the authorizing language in the conference report emphasizes poverty reduction, particularly for Africa, and supports national development strategies designed and implemented with the participation of organizations that give voice to the needs of the poor. We thus recommend:
We also recommend including civil society on the Board of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and establishing an advisory council as provided in the House bill (Sections 303 and 308 of HR 1950).
We thank you for your leadership in addressing these matters of great urgency to the world’s poor, especially in Africa.
Most Reverend John H. Ricard, SSJ
Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee
Chairman, Committee on International Policy
Catholic Relief Services
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