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Big push to increase development funding

Hunger and Poverty Advocacy Update

Now is our chance to help Lutherans do our part to expand and strengthen U.S. programs to end hunger and extreme poverty.  While we have a supportive administration, our advocacy is still urgently needed: lobbyists for other special interests are working overtime to fund their own priorities (and pull money away from programs like development aid or food stamps).  Still,  if we do our part, we have a good chance of achieving much of what we seek. read more . . .

Last summer, members of LPF joined people around the U.S. to raise their voices and successfully advocate to restore $4.1 billion to the proposed International Affairs Budget for the coming year. It passed by a 73-23 vote in the U.S. Senate! This margin was encouraging because the budget sets spending limits for the next stages of activity in Congress (authorization and appropriation).

This was a significant victory to ensure that resources are expanded for effective poverty-focused development assistance programs. The Foreign Operations bill supports life-saving programs like the Child Survival and Health Fund.

But our work is far from over. We ask you to join with others who care about hunger and poverty as we seek to advocate for three things to hold on to this victory.

Please contact your two Senators with this message: Please do all in your power to allocate at least $38.2 billion to Foreign Operations for fiscal year 2009; to increase poverty-related development assistance by $5 billion; and to pass The Global Poverty Act (S. 2433).

Here are some sample letters (html, pdf)
For more information on hunger related issues, visit our hunger resources page.

Thanks for taking a few minutes to use your voice for peace and justice!

Early Wednesday morning (March 12), we learned that the proposed Senate Budget Resolution slashed funding for the International Affairs Budget, which sets funding levels for federal spending on the State Dept., embassies, diplomacy -- and of special concern again this year, poverty-focused development aid.

LPF put out an urgent call to 900 people on our leadership, advocacy, and youth leaders lists.

Our friends in Congress have built an impressive bi-partisan group of supporters including several powerful Republicans, conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans. Two of the strongest Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Joe Biden (D-Del) sponsored an amendment that would restore all $4.1 billion cut from the International Affairs budget that includes poverty-focused development aid. There were more than twenty other amendments being considered Thursday and we watched the debate on all those other issues consume the afternoon and go well into the evening.

I am happy to report that the Lugar/Biden amendment passed by an overwhelming 73-23 vote due to lobbying around the country and the strong bi-partisan sponsorship we’d built ahead of time. Talking it up among your friends can help lay the groundwork for asking for their help on the next stages of this effort getting the best budget framework possible this month and then in the fall during the appropriations committee and floor process. If you can write a Letter to the Editor all the better.

This victory is an important one but there is still much to do. The budget resolution is crucial since it sets the limits for what is available for the appropriations committees to allocate. But this budget and the size of the vote sends an important message to the appropriators who will be making those decisions.

Thanks for all your help in making this happen. At a time when it often feels like we can’t do much in the political sphere, it is wonderful to know that there are places where our voice can count.

Blessings and thank you
Glen Gersmehl
National Coordinator, Lutheran Peace Fellowship

LPF, 3-2-08 Advocacy update
Progress on the Global Poverty Act

As you may already be aware, the Global Poverty Act was considered in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 13th and we were very pleased to see that the Committee passed the bill shortly thereafter!

The Global Poverty Act was originally sponsored in the House by Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) and it passed there last fall by a voice vote (indicating it wasn't controversial). Senator Obama introduced the Senate version in December along with Chuck Hagel (R-Neb) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA). It has since gathered great support from the development community, and has cosponsors across the political spectrum from Hagel and Lugar, to Feinstein, Biden, and Dodd.

The bill makes two important contributions. First it commits Congress and U.S. policy more completely to supporting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These MDGs represent the first time the nations of the world, all 190 of them, agreed on a set of eight development benchmarks to achieve by 2015; notably, cutting extreme poverty in half.

Second, the bill would help coordinate and make the most of U.S. assistance (currently spread over a couple dozen different budget lines). It doesn't add any funding to current poverty related development assistance, but that can only help it pass in a politicized and abbreviated election-year congressional session.

By all the evidence there's momentum behind the bill and it fairly cries out for people of good will to do what we can to help it pass a floor vote in the Senate!

Now would be a great time for a 3 to 5 sentence postcard, email, or phone call to urge your members of the Senate to vote for, support, and work to pass the Global Poverty Act.

We are also encouraging folks to call or write and urge our elected officials to support a $5 billion increase in poverty related development assistance in the U.S. Budget for FY2009. This is not a huge amount (roughly a week’s worth of Iraq war costs). But it is important that even such a modest increase be included in the proposal developed by the Budget Committees in the coming month and then sent to the full Senate and House, since the Budget document defines the limit of what can be allocated in the fall by the various Appropriations Subcommittees and Committees.

Members of Senate Budget Committee need to hear from us to thank them for their efforts so far and encourage them to offer leadership to a request supported by LPF, Bread for the World, and other groups.

Other useful sources of information include:,

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