Letter to Congressional Super Committee Regarding International Humanitarian and Development Assistance, October 7, 2011

Year Published
  • 2011
  • English

October 7, 2011

Honorable Senator Patty Murray
Co-Chair, Joint Select Committee
United States Congress
Washington, DC

Honorable Representative Jeb Hensarling
Co-Chair, Joint Select Committee
United States Congress
Washington, DC

Dear Senator Murray and Representative Hensarling:

On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) we write to offer you our encouragement and support as you work to put our nation’s fiscal house in order in ways that avoid morally unacceptable, potentially deadly cuts to poor and vulnerable people at home and abroad, especially to poverty-focused international humanitarian and development assistance.

The USCCB has repeatedly acknowledged the difficult challenges that Congress faces to get the nation’s financial house in order: fulfilling the demands of justice and obligations to future generations; controlling future debt and deficits; and protecting the life and dignity of those who are poor and vulnerable. However, our nation must be fiscally responsible in morally responsible ways.

Poverty-focused humanitarian and development assistance programs offer much needed agricultural support for subsistence farmers, adaptation to climate change for vulnerable communities, medicines for people living with HIV/AIDS and vaccines for preventable diseases, assistance to orphans and vulnerable children, disaster assistance in places like Haiti, peacekeeping to protect innocent civilians in troubled areas such as Sudan and the Congo, and support to migrants and refugees fleeing conflict or persecution in nations such as Iraq. The famine in East Africa is a grim reminder of the lives that are at stake. (See attached list for the poverty-focused humanitarian and development programs supported by the USCCB.)

We acknowledge that the deficit must be reduced, but we urge you to consider balanced adjustments across the entire federal budget, including defense, revenue, agricultural subsidies, and fair and just entitlement reform. If the State and Foreign Operations budget must be cut, then protect critical poverty-focused development and humanitarian accounts and other parts of the budget focused on the poor. The budget is a moral document that should give priority to those who are poor and vulnerable at home and abroad.

As we have said in the past, the USCCB stands ready to work with leaders of both parties for a budget that reduces future deficits, protects poor and vulnerable people at home and abroad, advances the common good, and promotes human life and dignity. But we oppose approaches that place a disproportionate, deadly burden on the poorest people in the poorest places on earth. We urge the Joint Select Committee to reject the disproportionate, unwise, and unjust cuts to poverty-focused international assistance.

Sincerely yours,

Most Reverend Howard J. Hubbard
Bishop of Albany
Chairman, Committee on International Justice and Peace