A bipartisan coalition of Congress members recently passed a bill that increases foreign aid by 4%, or $2.2 billion, to $56.4 billion for the fiscal year 2020 (FY20), which will now go to the Senate for further amendments and approval on its way to US President Donald Trump’s desk for final signing.
The coalition decided against several proposals to slash funding for a variety of foreign aid programs, and partially restored funding for programs that had been cut in previous years. The bill also maintains funding for countries in Central America and repeals the global gag rule, which defunds family planning initiatives around the world that mention abortion in any capacity.
Overall, the passage of the bill reflects broad, bipartisan support for foreign aid as a tool for diplomacy and global development.
“The Committee believes that our national security is strongest when development, diplomacy, and defense are all well-funded and equally prioritized,” the House Committee on Appropriations wrote in a report that accompanies the bill. “The Committee contends that military power alone cannot solve all the problems confronting the world today and therefore, prioritizes diplomatic and development efforts critical to maintaining United States global leadership.”
The biggest winner of the bill may have been health programs. The House voted to increase spending on health programs by more than $600 million to $9.3 billion.
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria received a boost of 13.5% in funding to $1.56 billion, and family planning programs received an increase in funding of $142 million to $750 million. Notably, the Trump administration proposed cutting family planning efforts to $237 million.
Read More: Richer, Safer, Healthier: 4 Ways Robust Foreign Aid Is Good for Americans
Spending on education programs will also remain the same, which means that Education Cannot Wait, which provides education to kids in disaster zones, will receive essential funding toward its replenishment goal of $1.8 billion by 2021. ECW has reached more than 1.3 million children in 19 crisis-affected countries since its start in 2016.
Global Citizen has helped secure US funding for ECW in the past.
I also had the privilege of meeting with @YasmineSherif1, dir. of @educannotwait, about our meetings with reps from 🇬🇧🇮🇪🇺🇸to help raise $1.8B for ECW. We spoke about my recent trip to Peru with @glblctzn, the kids we met in Tumbes whose schools were rebuilt with ECW funds & we pic.twitter.com/ACvBYhH0fM— Rachel Brosnahan (@RachelBros) March 6, 2019
Funds for both humanitarian assistance and UN peacekeeping efforts were increased in the appropriations bill. The bill also directs the State Department to continue foreign aid programs in Central America to improve material conditions in countries that are in the midst of a refugee crisis.
Now that the foreign aid spending bill has been approved by the House, it will travel to the Senate, where it will face another round of potential amendments and revisions.
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You can call on the Senate to maintain levels of foreign aid by signing petitions and reaching out to your state Senators via email, social media, or phone.
Calling a politician’s office and leaving a message is often the most effective way to ensure that your concerns are heard.