With all eyes on the vitally important fiscal cliff debate, it’s no surprise that an amendment introduced by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky last week was largely overlooked. Hidden from view just two days after Christmas was an amendment to the Hurricane Sandy supplemental funding bill, which would cut 16% ($9 billion) of the State/USAID budget in an attempt to offset vital disaster relief funding for New York and New Jersey. This would have meant deep cuts to programs that fight AIDS, fund vaccines, and help provide nutrition to families.
As Senator Lindsey Graham said on the Senate floor:
This amendment guts to their core… essential accounts that are very important to our national security and to who we are as Americans.
Thankfully, the measure didn’t pass – 91 members voted against it, with just 3 voting in favor: Senators Paul, Mike Lee (UT) and Dean Heller (NV). What’s more remarkable is that 15 months ago, Senator Paul introduced a virtually identical amendment to another disaster relief bill, and that amendment received 20 votes. Why such a drastic change in votes? YOU! Thanks in large part to the advocacy work that ONE members do every day in defense of lifesaving development programs, Members of Congress realized that it wasn’t worth using cuts in foreign aid to “pay for” other spending.
Foreign assistance spending will continue to be under attack as we grapple with the serious fiscal challenges facing our country. Through the tireless efforts of ONE members, we can make sure that the lives of the world’s poorest are not put at risk due to drastic budget cuts. It’s rare that our advocacy efforts can be quantified so concretely, but we’re so thankful for supportive ONE members like you who tell Members of Congress to preserve and protect programs that fight extreme poverty and preventable disease.