Letter to Congress Regarding the FY 2025 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations, April 25, 2024

Year Published
  • 2024
  • English

April 25, 2024

Dear Senator/Representative,

On behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, Committee on Migration, and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), we 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 2025 appropriations to at least the levels indicated in the attached chart.

Each year, USCCB and CRS implore Congress to assess budget decisions using three criteria: protection of human life and dignity, impact on the most vulnerable, and advancement of the common good. In a January letter, Pope Francis highlighted these priorities, asking global leaders to “be mindful of the moral responsibility that each of us has in the fight against poverty, the attainment of an integral development for all our brothers and sisters, and the quest for a peaceful coexistence among peoples.” With conflict, hunger, and displacement ravaging communities across the world, U.S. leadership and international collaboration is more important than ever to wisely resolve the many crises of our time and to build a foundation for a safer, more prosperous, and just world.

In this spirit of dignity, integral human development, and peace, we ask Congress to prioritize the following in Fiscal Year 2025 appropriations:

Increase International Disaster Assistance and Migration and Refugee Assistance. During this calendar year, nearly 300 million people will need humanitarian assistance and protection due to conflicts, environmental emergencies, and other causes. Twenty percent of all children worldwide are living in or fleeing from conflict and 1 in 73 people are forcibly displaced. The United States has a long tradition of being the moral leader in the international arena, providing aid to protect and support human life. Assessed global needs are close to a record high.1 Increasing humanitarian funding is critical to save lives and alleviate human suffering.

Support climate adaptation through the Green Climate Fund and other bilateral and multilateral accounts. In Laudate Deum, Pope Francis called us to action, inviting leaders everywhere to rise above self-interest and imagine a future shaped by the common good and a deep respect for the sanctity of our shared home. Global warming and increasing atmospheric carbon density are projected to have significant and potentially catastrophic impacts on food production, nutrition in food, access to potable water, and rates of vector-borne illnesses like malaria. The brunt of these effects will be borne by those who have contributed the least to climate change. Unfortunately, climate finance for adaptation continues to be woefully insufficient to prepare for these threats, falling far short of what is required to effectively support vulnerable populations. It is imperative that the United States significantly increase investments to ensure marginalized communities can survive and thrive as the climate changes.

Strengthen Development Assistance. With more than 700 million people living in extreme poverty today, programs funded through Development Assistance that support climate change adaptation and sustainable landscapes, conflict management and mitigation, food security and agriculture – including in Feed the Future, and basic education are critically important. These programs help advance the moral, economic, and security interests of the United States by focusing on ending extreme poverty, expanding economic growth, and fostering resilient, democratic societies. By investing in long-term development activities, we not only provide hope and opportunity for communities today but also foster a more prosperous, safe, and secure world for us all tomorrow.

Protect life-saving Global Health Programs. In 2022, roughly 249 million people contracted malaria2; every minute, a child under five dies of malaria, and children under five comprise 75% of malaria deaths worldwide.3 The World Health Organization conservatively estimates that by 2030, an additional quarter of a million people will die each year from global health impacts of climate change, such as increasing vector-borne diseases like malaria, more prevalent undernutrition, diarrheal diseases, and heat stress4. Moreover, approximately 1.3 million people,5 including 130,000 children,6 were newly infected with HIV in 2022, and 1.2 million people died from tuberculosis.6F7 While significant global health challenges remain, the United States has led the world’s most successful global health efforts to ensure that all people can live safe and healthy lives free from disease. Funding these important, life-saving programs and planning for future threats to global health will pay dividends for generations of children and families as we build better and more accessible health systems, including here in the United States.

Advance peacebuilding, atrocities prevention, and social cohesion programs. While support for humanitarian efforts is a moral imperative, we must also strive to prevent and mitigate conflict. The Complex Crisis Fund, peacekeeping accounts, atrocities prevention, and development initiatives focused on social cohesion are invaluable to save lives and promote peace.

We recognize that the U.S. cannot address all global challenges or meet all needs. Pope Francis continued in his letter to say that “there is an evident need for international political action that, through the adoption of coordinated measures, can effectively pursue the goals of global peace and authentic development.” When compassionate U.S. investment, expertise, and innovation leads, others follow and leverage our generosity.

And while we will always support the life-saving work advanced by Congress, we do 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. Furthermore, consistent with our longstanding support for the Mexico City policy, we strongly urge you to apply the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy to the bill.

We thank Congress for its ongoing support for international poverty-reducing humanitarian and development assistance and look forward to working together to combat poverty, promote integral development for all our brothers and sisters, and foster a peaceful coexistence among nations and peoples.


Most Reverend A. Elias Zaidan
Bishop of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon
Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace

Most Reverend Mark J. Seitz
Bishop of El Paso
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration

Mr. Sean Callahan
President and CEO
Catholic Relief Services



Letter to Congress on FY 25 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations April 25, 2024.pdf