On Saturday, Congress officially adjourned. You may have heard about this in the news in the context of, ‘This week Congress adjourned without doing… X.’ But behind the news headlines and media stories, behind the doors of Congress, there are people who represent you, who listen to you, working to get things done – and getting things done.
It probably is not a coincidence that some of the bills named that passed are issues that World Vision advocates have spoken passionately about – the Water for the World Act, Girls Count Act, and the Global Food Security Act. You went beyond emails for these issues to make phone calls, meet members of Congress in person, draw attention to the issues on social media, and even join us in Washington, D.C.
The positives from this year.
It is an ongoing challenge to ensure that international aid and development funding keep pace with growing global challenges. In lieu of a FY2017 budget, Congress passed a continuing resolution before the session ended – a piece of appropriations legislation that will extend current funding until April 28, 2017. What does this include, and what does it mean?
- Funding for the International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) and grant programs to fight child labor will remain funded at the current level of 86 million dollars until the continuing resolution expires. The House had proposed zeroing out funding for this department for FY2017.
- Added to the Continuing Resolution was $4.3 billion in funding for the State Department/USAID accounts – representing an eight percent increase in the Foreign Assistance budget. This money will go towards humanitarian assistance for refugees and countering extremist groups in the Middle East.
A small but strategic one percent of the U.S. budget.
Goals for next year.
- The Education for All Act. This bill passed the House and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. However, the bill was held up and did not go for a full Senate vote. This bill, which will help provide a coordinated strategy to bring education to girls, children fleeing conflict, children with disability, and others, will likely be reintroduced next Congress.
- The Reach Every Mother and Child Act. This bill currently has 218 cosponsors in the House (more than half!) and 35 cosponsors in the Senate (over a third!). Despite this incredible amount of support, the bill was not voted on in either chamber. You can encourage your members of Congress next session to reintroduce this critical legislation that aims to end preventable mother and child deaths by 2035.
- Continue to speak out for overseas development assistance dollars. In the grand scheme of things, this is a very small proportion of the federal budget, which beyond increasing national security, strengthening economic trade partners, and advancing technology – literally saves lives.
- Be a voice for vulnerable children, whether they are fleeing conflict, subject to trafficking, or victims of other violence.
And we want to say thank you.
- To House Foreign Affairs Chairman and Ranking Member Congressman Ed Royce and Elliot Engel, Representatives Chris Smith and Betty McCollum, and Senators Johnny Isakson and Bob Casey for support of the Global Food Security Act.
- To Senators Chris Coons and Susan Collins, and Representative Dave Reichert and Betty McCollum for being champions for maternal and child health issues.
- To Senators Marco Rubio and Jeanne Shaheen, and Representative Steve Chabot for sponsoring the Girls Count Act.
- You! The advocates who collectively contacted Congress over 65,000 times this year about issues that truly matter.