Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), joined Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and key House Democrats, urged her colleagues Wednesday to defeat the Republican foreign aid bill unless appropriate funding can be restored to initiatives, like debt relief, that directly affect the world’s poorest countries.
"The foreign debt of most impoverished countries is a crushing burden on the poorest people of the world, diverting scarce resources from health care, education and the hope of development," Pelosi said. "We have an unprecedented opportunity to provide global leadership, yet the allocation of funds this year has once again fallen short. As a result, neither this President nor the next will be able to carry out an effective foreign policy that meets our national security requirements."
At one point the House Foreign Operations Appropriations bill had an allocation of nearly $13.6 billion, which Pelosi said would have been a good start despite being below the President’s request. But that allocation has been cut to $13.281 billion, or about 10% below the Administration’s request.
The bill now contains only $82 million of the $472 million in pending requests for debt relief and a moratorium for countries that receive debt relief from obtaining new loans. The bill is so short of funding, Pelosi said, that it will not even provide enough resources to enable two countries, Bolivia and Mozambique (which have met all necessary conditions to obtain debt relief) to actually get it.
"This last minute reduction, and the fact that these reductions were made in programs that most directly affect the poorest countries in the world, has forced us to oppose this bill," Pelosi said.