Why we’re asking Congress to protect the international affairs budget

Nearly a week after Election Day, the votes have finally been counted and we know most of what there is to know – that the political leadership of the country is in a status quo position with President Obama returning for another four years; the Senate remaining in Democratic hands with a slightly increased majority; and the House of Representatives remaining in Republican hands with a slightly diminished majority.

For the next Congress, leadership changes are in the offing, including on key committees that are critical to ONE’s issues. This includes upcoming internal processes to replace the chair and ranking members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which is expected to take on the reauthorization of the US programs to fight global HIV/AIDS.

 

Democrats on the powerful Appropriations Committee will also select a new leader who will work with Republican Chairman Hal Rogers, Ky., to fund US goverment operations, including the life-saving programs we care about. Lastly, the House Financial Services Committee will also acquire both a new Chairman and Ranking Member for the 113th Congress – this Committee’s cooperation is key to our efforts to prevent the oil industry’s efforts to repeal the Cardin-Lugar extractives transparency law.

ONE VOTE has just wrapped up its 2012 cycle and finished up with lots of candidate engagements on the trail as well as a very strong slate of statements from the Presidential Candidates, as well as newly elected members of the Senate. The foundation for strong relationships has been laid down with key folks, who will be part of the deliberations and vote to resolve the big economic challenges ahead of the country.

Here at ONE HQ, we’ve been planning for this day, because all eyes now turn to the fiscal cliff and we have readied ourselves for a full campaign to protect the world’s poorest in what could be unprecedented spending cuts that would seriously devastate the life-saving programs we support.

So – here’s the short history: last summer, in the wake of the debt ceiling crisis last summer, Congress and the President were supposed to agree on a deal to enact a 10-year deficit reduction package to the tune of $1.2 trillion dollars.

If this couldn’t be reached then across the board mandatory spending cuts would go into place – or sequestration. Half of these cuts would come from defense programs and the other from discretionary spending and entitlements. Programs that ONE and its members fight for every day – such as PEPFAR, Feed the Future, and other Global Health initiatives – would be cut by 8.2 percent. And, as we all know – all cuts are not felt equally!

We went into the election with no deal in place, and now the US faces the fiscal cliff on January 2, 2013, when not only sequestration is scheduled to go into effect, but the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 are set to expire.

Just yesterday, in the aftermath of the election, both Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House John Boehner sounded conciliatory notes and we’ll have to watch and see if some kind of bipartisan deal can be worked out or, some kind of temporary bridge gets put in place while a larger deal gets worked out. If you want to read more about the specifics of the Sequestration and Fiscal Cliff, click here.

But in the meantime, we need to be prepared to protect fight to protect the world’s poorest. What can you do to help? There are lots of ways to get involved:

Get involved locally: Help organize in your neighborhood, make phone calls to other ONE members in your neighborhood, or write a letter to your Member of Congress. Find your regional field director by logging in to ONE and email them to get in touch.

Make a phone call to your Senator and remember to tell them that they can protect life-saving programs such as PEPFAR, the Global Fund and Feed the Future by protecting the 150 Foreign Affairs Account and not balancing the budget on the backs of the poor. Check back to ONE.org on Wednesday for more details.

Come to a budget briefing: We will be holding these briefings in early January to get people up to speed on the issues and find out how they can plug into the fight. Contact your regional field director in the map here and email to get in touch.

Last but not least, take action!