Letter to Congress Regarding State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs in Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations

June 1, 2021

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 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 2022 appropriations to at least the levels indicated in the attached chart. We applaud Congress for maintaining strong bipartisan support for these accounts, but the human and societal needs call us to forge a deeper commitment to resources and tools that can tackle the urgent crises of our times and allow every person to reach their God-given human potential.

Each year, USCCB and CRS assess the federal budget on how it supports the life and dignity of the human person. As we evaluate budget priorities, we are reminded of Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, where he wrote, “What we need in fact are states and civil institutions that are present and active, that look beyond the free and efficient working of certain economic, political or ideological systems, and are primarily concerned with individuals and the common good.” The pandemic has shown our society and our world that we have to demonstrate greater solidarity and support to the common good of all our neighbors near and far. 

We write to you at a time when climate change, conflict, forced displacement, the pandemic, and its secondary impacts disproportionately impact and threaten the poorest and most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters. Bipartisan support for our nation’s response to the challenges of global poverty has protected foreign assistance funding for years.  We urge Congress now to act boldly and courageously to support human life and dignity, care for our common home, advance peace, and justice, and eliminate the worst aspects of poverty.  

Strong Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations will be essential to ensure a sustainable recovery from the pandemic and to defend against further development and humanitarian backsliding. This starts with supporting strong health systems and programs such as those that treat, prevent, and control malaria; support HIV and AIDS efforts to achieve epidemic control; and promote safe, nurturing family care for vulnerable children and reduce violence against children. We urge Congress to support lifesaving Global Health accounts, especially the Vulnerable Children account which supports the world’s most marginalized children.

The health and wellbeing of each person will also depend on how we care for the environment and our common home. Droughts in Africa, severe storms in Asia, and failing coffee plants in Central America are just a few examples of the terrible impact climate change has on communities. Without immediate action to counteract the causes of climate change, we expect to experience stronger and more regular climate events that disproportionately impact and displace poor and vulnerable communities. We recommend Congress provide robust funding to the Green Climate Fund and to consider other bilateral and multilateral programs to address climate change adaptation and mitigation.

While climate change and natural disasters uproot families, conflict remains the largest driver of forced displacement and creates the largest need for humanitarian aid. More than 80 million people are displaced from their homes, most due to conflict, persecution, or instability. The United States has been a global leader in ensuring lifesaving humanitarian assistance and protection to people in need. Unfortunately, the number of people in need is growing. We urge Congress to increase allocations to International Disaster Assistance, Migration and Refugee Assistance, and Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance. While we cannot forget the moral obligation to provide lifesaving assistance and protection, these social, economic, and political crises require more than humanitarian aid. We must leverage diplomatic, peacebuilding, and development resources and tools to prevent conflict, address the root causes of human suffering, and promote justice and good governance. We recommend Congress increase investments in the Complex Crisis Fund and provide strong funding for peacekeeping, atrocities prevention, and the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Peace and justice also require systems and structures that offer opportunities for individuals, families, and communities to thrive. Pope Francis reminds us though that “Some economic rules have proved effective for growth, but not for integral human development.” Inequality and lack of economic opportunity continue to plague communities across the globe, including here in the United States. We frequently exclude from development efforts those without access to nutritious food, clean water and sanitation, basic education, and health and social services. We acknowledge and appreciate recent increases to Development Assistance, but to achieve long-term human development needs, we need to evaluate where and how we can do more. We strongly recommend Congress increase appropriations to Development Assistance and Economic Support Funds that achieve the goal of poverty reduction and integral human development.

We have grave concerns about providing taxpayer funding for activities inconsistent with the Catholic faith and basic human rights. Therefore, we strongly urge Congress to maintain the Helms Amendment 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 look forward to conversations with you and your staff on how we can work together to advance peace, justice, and the common good.


Most Reverend David J. Malloy  
Bishop of Rockville 
Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace

Most Reverend Mario E. Dorsonville
Aux. Bishop of Washington, DC
Chairman of the Committee on Migration

Mr. Sean M. Callahan
Catholic Relief Services


Attachment: Table of Accounts



Letter to Congress Regarding State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs in Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations
CRS-USCCB Appropriations Chart, April 9, 2021