Letter to Congress Regarding FY 2024 Appropriations for State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, June 9, 2023
June 9, 2023
On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), we write to urge Congress to increase international poverty-reducing humanitarian and development assistance under the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs in Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations to at least the levels indicated in the attached chart.
As Congressional leaders discuss Fiscal Year 2024 spending, it is important to consider the moral and human dimensions of the ongoing budget debate. We fear the human and social costs of substantial cuts to international assistance, and we caution against reductions to such programs that demonstrate effectiveness in promoting life and dignity and advancing international solidarity and security. As Catholics, we urge you to assess every budget decision on three criteria: whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity, how it affects “the least of these” (Mt 25), and how it promotes the common good.
In Pope Francis’ remarks on the World Day of Peace this January, he said “…we are called to confront the challenges of our world in a spirit of responsibility and compassion…. We must promote actions that enhance peace and put an end to the conflicts and wars that continue to spawn poverty and death. We urgently need to join in caring for our common home and in implementing clear and effective measures to combat climate change. …The scandal of entire peoples starving remains an open wound.”
We once more join the Pope's call to ensure food security for all, promote peace, and combat climate change. The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) estimates 48.9 million people are on the brink of starvation. Extreme hunger has more than doubled since 2019, with surging food, fertilizer, and energy prices, further constraining household purchasing power and agricultural productivity. Food insecurity is exacerbated by conflict, inflation, climate change and war around the globe, most notably amidst the war in Ukraine. To address pressing humanitarian needs and long-term development goals, we recommend the subcommittee increase funding for International Disaster Assistance, which supports emergency food security programming, as well as for Development Assistance, which provides resources to Feed the Future, a whole-of-government initiative that aims to address the root causes of global hunger, poverty and malnutrition.
Hunger does not exist in isolation. Conflict and forced displacement as well as poor health all drive hunger and scarcity. At a time when many are focused on the war in Ukraine, it is important now more than ever that we continue to show our compassion to the rest of the world, where hundreds of millions of people struggle to deal with the root causes of persistent conflict and unprecedented displacement. Consequently, we urge the subcommittee to increase funding to life saving Global Health Programs, Migration and Refugee Assistance, and the Complex Crisis Fund, as well as peacebuilding, atrocities prevention, and social cohesion programs.
Climate change is a threat multiplier, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable -- by disrupting livelihoods, destroying homes, agriculture, and natural resources. To ensure vulnerable populations can adapt to climate change, we recommend the subcommittee appropriate funds to the Green Climate Fund and increase appropriations to Development Assistance bilateral funds that support adaptation, clean energy, nature-based solutions, and sustainable landscapes alongside climate-smart agriculture and water, sanitation, and hygiene, always respecting the autonomy of peoples “as the principal protagonists of the destiny of their nation” (Fratelli Tutti, 233).
In closing his World Day of Peace remarks, Pope Francis said, “Only by responding generously to these [global challenges], with an altruism inspired by God’s infinite and merciful love, will we be able to build a new world and contribute to the extension of his kingdom, which is a kingdom of love, justice and peace.” While we are committed to working with Congress to foster such love, justice, and peace, we have grave concerns about providing taxpayer funding for activities inconsistent with right reason and basic human rights that Catholic teaching provides. We therefore strongly urge Congress to maintain the longstanding, bipartisan, and life-saving Helms Amendment and all related pro-life riders in the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill. The USCCB will oppose any bill that expands taxpayer funding of abortion, including any appropriations bill.
We thank Congress for the ongoing support for international poverty-reducing humanitarian and development assistance and we look forward to working with you to tackle our many global challenges in a spirit of responsibility and compassion.
Most Rev. David J. Malloy
Bishop of Rockford
Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace
Mr. Sean Callahan
President and CEO
Catholic Relief Services
20230310_CRS-USCCB Approps Chart.pdf