The fight to preserve US assistance for to fight AIDS, hunger and the scourge of global poverty has reached the shores of Oregon. Last week, the Portland offices of Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden received more than 1,600 petitions signed by Oregonians opposed to the February 19 House budget cuts to foreign assistance.
Just when we’ve started to reduce the rate of new HIV infections, the House bill cuts America’s contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria by almost half. If this happens, more than 400,000 people with not receive antiretroviral treatment — which means more deaths and more HIV infections.
Oregon’s ONE Congressional District Leaders Carolyn Barber and Craig Rottman met with Maribeth Healey, deputy state director for Senator Merkley, and Barbara Smith Warner, field representative for Senator Wyden, to deliver the petitions and discuss the critical need to maintain foreign assistance for the world’s most needy.
Both Senator Merkley and Senator Wyden’s offices made ample time to discuss the issues important to ONE and were knowledgeable about the implications of House cuts. While Senator Merkley hasn’t released any public statements on the budget cuts, he has a long history of supporting investments in foreign aid and international development.
Senator Wyden’s office stated that, in general, the senator is opposed to the cuts to foreign assistance and that cutting this small amount of discretionary spending is not the way to solve a systemic budget problem. They are “on the same side” as ONE.
Both offices offered helpful advice for furthering ONE’s mission in Oregon and are looking forward to growing their relationship with ONE Oregon. Thank you to Senators Merkley and Wyden for their very able leadership on behalf of ONE.org and the citizens of Oregon!
-Craig Rottman, ONE Oregon