Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing to discuss the impacts of the looming sequester, the approximately 5 percent across-the-board cuts in all discretionary spending, set to take effect on March 1. Sequestration will have severe consequences for programs that fight HIV/AIDS, childhood diseases and hunger.
At the request of the Appropriations Committee Chairwoman, Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and the State Department, in addition to several other agencies, released letters detailing the devastating impact of sequestration on federal programs. The letter from Secretary of State John Kerry included dire warnings about the impact of the $1.7 billion in cuts to foreign assistance programs.
Senate meeting to discuss assistance. Photo credit: www.libertynews.com
Secretary Kerry’s letter warned that:
- Cuts would eliminate resources needed to fight disease and hunger, invest in global health, provide humanitarian assistance… undermining efforts to foster more stable societies and regions.
- Sequestration would cut global health funding by more than $400 million, gravely impeding our efforts to create an AIDS-free generation and to end preventable child deaths. Such cuts undermine our efforts to shape the broader international efforts to fight disease and hunger, invest in global health and foster more stable societies and regions.
- $70 million in cuts to food aid that currently provides assistance to nearly two million people.
- $200 million in cuts to humanitarian assistance programs, some of which are currently operating the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.
Sequestration is very likely to start on March 1. This is your chance to add your voice to the more than 100,000 Americans who have weighed in opposing cuts to these programs. Please let Congress and the President know that you want them to protect lifesaving programs by preserving the foreign affairs account by signing our budget petition.