Congresswoman McCollum ‘planks’ the Democratic Platform Committee for ONE

With just weeks left until the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Democrats are hard at work drafting their platform. As one of the groups invited to speak in front of the Platform Drafting Committee, ONE had the opportunity to make a pitch for the inclusion of an international development “plank” in the draft at their public hearing in downtown Minneapolis this past Friday.

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Congresswoman McCollum testifies at the public hearing

We definitely left an impression on the committee. ONE was thrilled to have our pitch delivered by Congresswoman Betty McCollum. A family of ONE members came out to lend her our support as she testified. Congresswoman McCollum testified that less than 1 percent of the US budget was doing a world of good. She talked about the importance of effective international development programs in US foreign policy and stressed the amazing results we’ve seen already all over the world.

Congresswoman McCollum was happy to see us. She was kind enough to take the time to speak with each of the ONE members at the event. Committee Chairman and former Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio gave a great introduction of ONE before inviting Congresswoman McCollum to make her speech. Our friend and champion Congresswoman Barbara Lee also gave a shout out to ONE and expressed her support for lifesaving international development programs.

MORE PICTURES FROM THE EVENT HERE

The Congresswoman spoke about the millions of ONE members around the world who deeply care about helping the world’s poorest. She also reminded the audience that just less than 1 percent of the US budget is making such a great impact all around the world. She described how programs like GAVI, PEPFAR and Feed the Future are saving and improving millions of lives, and how important it is to fight corruption in developing nations’ extractives industries.

Congresswoman Lee, member of the Drafting Committee, asked Rep. McCollum to underline the impact that development programs have on national security. Congresswoman McCollum said we’ve seen over and over again — when food prices skyrocket and communities are thrown into distress, the result is political instability in nations and regions, which becomes a US national security problem. In her words “food security is national security.”

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Congresswoman McCollum and ONE members

After the testimony, Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia, also a member of the committee, came out of the hearing room to talk to us briefly and thank us for our work. We even got to chat with Kevin Johnson, former NBA player and current Mayor of Sacramento, who was excited to learn about ONE and really liked our T-shirts.

This was the first time for many of the ONE members in attendance to experience a political committee meeting. Most of us went in anxious but strolled out confident. Thank you Congresswoman McCollum and the rest of the of the ONE family who made this possible!

Here are other ONE member thoughts and reactions after the meeting:

“We were surprised and sort of intimidated when we saw all the politicians. We knew it was going to be a great opportunity to get ONE’s work and it’s importance known, so it could still be supported. Yet we didn’t know it was going to be so formal, so at first it was intimidating.” -Stephanie Flores

“Once in the meeting it was great to hear how much Congresswoman McCollum spoke and all the points she covered. She spoke of things that were both interesting and vital for the politicians in the room to know in order to make evident how important development work is. The congresswoman was a great choice for being the spokesperson, since she knew what kind of work ONE does, and was well equipped to answer questions.” –Fernando and Rogelio

“My biggest realization from the meeting was hearing Congresswoman McCollum’s point on how it was less expensive to invest in international development and relationships up front versus war later on. That was something I had never thought about.” -Michelle Vang

“I was amazed and did not realize how big of an impact ONE had, there were numerous politicians and others that came up to talk to us just because we were wearing ONE t-shirts. I didn’t realize ONE was so well known amongst politicians” –Susie D’Mello

We’re all hoping that the Democratic Party accepts our plank for their party platform for the national elections. All in all, it was an important day for ONE and the fight against global poverty and I’m so glad I went to show my support.

-Dia Lee, ONE member, Minnesota