Letter to Congress on Sequestration and FY 2013 Appropriations for Poverty-Focused International Assistance, November 16, 2012

Year Published
  • 2012
  • English

November 16, 2012

The Honorable Senator Inouye
Chairman, Committee on Appropriations
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Thad Cochran
Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Harold Rogers
Chairman, Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Norm Dicks
Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members:

As you make final decisions regarding FY 2013 appropriations and strive to resolve our fiscal crisis, we urge you to protect funding for lifesaving poverty-focused international humanitarian and development programs in State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs and Agriculture appropriations. Please refer to the attached chart for a list of the accounts we ask you to prioritize. For these accounts, we strongly support the Senate figures for FY 2013 appropriations and ask that you avoid sequestration.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) appreciate the fiscal challenges facing Congress. As the Bishops pointed out in their letter of November 13 to Congress regarding future unsustainable deficits, everything must be on the table as Congress negotiates a resolution to these challenges, except we must draw a “circle of protection” around those at greatest risk, a position supported by us and our ecumenical partners. Poverty-focused international assistance protects the most vulnerable persons and families abroad, while on the domestic front we support the many social programs that extend the same circle of protection to people living in poverty in the United States.

Overseas, CRS implements the kinds of life-saving programs funded by these accounts. International Disaster Assistance and Migration and Refugee assistance funding helps people like Fatme, who fled the violence in Syria with nothing but the clothes on her back. The funds held in Food for Peace’s safe box put people like Suzy Razafindrafara on the path to food security; her rice yield increased 50% in Madagascar thanks to technical advice from CRS partner Caritas Antsirabe. PEPFAR funding helps to maintain life-saving successes after programs are transitioned to local leadership, which CRS successfully completed in 9 countries this spring with partners like the ecumenical team in Zambia.

Cuts to these accounts, such as the 8.2% sequestration requires, would cost lives overseas. Among other losses, it would mean:

  • HIV/AIDS treatment for 276,500 people will not be available, potentially leading to 63,000 more AIDS-related deaths and 124,000 more children becoming orphans;
  • 3.33 million people will have reduced or denied access to lifesaving food aid; and
  • 656,000 fewer children annually will have access to a quality primary school education.

In 2011, CRS used funding from these accounts to help more than 100 million beneficiaries in nearly 100 countries and contributed $224 million in private funds. American citizens continue to give of their hard-earned dollars to alleviate suffering overseas because they believe in our responsibility to help our brothers and sisters in the human family. As their representatives, we urge you to echo that commitment and protect U.S. government poverty-focused international assistance.

Sincerely yours,

Most Reverend Richard J. Pates
Bishop of Des Moines
Chair, Committee on International Justice and Peace
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo
Catholic Relief Services