President Barack Obama second Inauguration speech, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama takes the oath of office (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama, surrounded by Congressional leaders, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Vice-President Joe Biden, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, House Majority-Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and House Minority-Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. (AP Photo/Jonathan Ernst, Pool)
On Monday morning, as America also celebrated Martin Luther King day, President Barack Obama took his oath of office for his second term. As expected, his speech focused on how he desired to move the country forward. However, as America’s is still recognized as the leading country in the world, he did take some time to speak on global matters. Midway through his speech he said:
We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.
This speaks to the heart of ONE’s mission. Our goal is to help the world’s poorest people in their struggle for dignity through global health and agriculture programs and economic opportinuty. As we do so not out of a sense of charity, but rather out of a sense of justice. As MLK said, “Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.” Most importantly, President Obama repeatedly emphasized in his speech that we must work “together.” Which is what ONE members are doing. We are ONE.
The President’s swearing-in follows the January 3rd swearing-in of members of both houses of Congress. Of course, a new year, new Congress and new four-year term means some policy and personnel changes. What hasn’t changed is the fight over the budget – we’ll need to keep working to protect lifesaving programs. As we take time every new year to make resolutions and reorganize our lives, closets and tackle boxes, so too are changes and reorganizations taking place in Washington, D.C. Here are some of the interesting changes that are happening in our issue areas.
After four years as Secretary of State, visiting more than 112 countries and making it her personal mission to elevate the empowerment of women and girls as a US foreign policy priority, Hillary Clinton is stepping down from her post. We’re so appreciative of her special effort to visit more than a dozen African countries to advance bi-lateral partnerships in trade, global health, governance and security. President Obama has nominated Senator John Kerry, D-Mass., who currently chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to succeed her, and we’re looking forward to working with this ONE champion in his new role.
The US Senate
In the Senate, there are now 55 Democrats and 45 Republican senators. There are also now an unprecedented 20 female senators. The political leadership of Senate remains largely unchanged. Senator Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., maintain their Democratic leadership roles, while Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky remains Minority Leader and John Cornyn, R-Texas, becomes Minority Whip.
Senator Kerry’s imminent transition to lead the State Department will see Senator Robert Menendez, D-N.J., succeed him as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. The departure of Senator Richard Lugar, R-Ind., as the top Republican on that committee has elevated Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., a strong proponent of access to clean water, to the position of ranking member.
With the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., assumes the chairmanship of the powerful Appropriations Committee that makes decisions on federal discretionary spending, including the State Department. Under Republican rules, Senator Thad Cochran, R-Miss., is term limited in the number of years he can serve as ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, so Senator Richard Shelby, R-Ala., will now be the ranking member.
The Budget Committee, which reviews the President’s budget request and sets spending priorities for Congress, has a new Chairman in Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash. Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., remains the ranking Republican.
We look forward to working with Senators Menendez, Corker, Mikulski, Shelby, Murray and Sessions!
Our champions in the fight against poverty, Senators Pat Leahy, D-Vt., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., remain in place as the lead appropriators overseeing the funding of international development programs. We’re also delighted to witness the return of Senator Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who battled serious health problems last year, and whose Senate colleagues gathered on the steps of the US Capitol to cheer his arrival.
Jewel Samad / AFP Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, second left, waves as he is welcomed by Vice President Biden, left, and his colleagues upon his return to the Senate on Jan. 3 after suffering a stroke last January.
The House of Representatives
Between retirements and election losses, 84 new nembers have been elected to the House for the 113th Congress- 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats and 5 non-voting Delegates. The Republican and Democratic leadership of the House remain unchanged with the reelection of Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Majority-Leader Eric Cantor and Minority Leader, Nancy, Pelosi.
Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., retain the leadership of the Budget Committee. The House Committee on Foreign Affairs has a new Chairman, Ed Royce, R-Calif., and a new ranking Democrat, Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. On the Appropriations Committee, Hal Rogers, R-Ky., remains Chairman, and ONE champion, Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., was elected to be the new Ranking Democrat.
With all of these changes going on, our goal this year is to make sure that one thing stays the same: America’s proud bipartisan legacy of lifesaving and poverty-fighting programs for those in the greatest need.