The Politics of Poverty

Ideas and analysis from Oxfam America's policy experts

In defense of US foreign assistance: A final call to Congressional leaders

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Frances Avakit Adong leads a meeting of the Oseera Citizen’s Parliament, a citizen advocacy group started with the support of foreign assistance. (Photo: Quim Vives / Oxfam)

This week Congress is working out the final details of the budget, and there’s still a chance critical foreign aid programs will be cut. We’re asking House leaders to uphold US leadership & protect the foreign assistance budget.

President Donald Trump and Congress disagree on whether America should stay engaged with the world. The federal budget is one place where this disagreement has been aired. Had it been taken without change, the Trump administration’s budget proposal would have drastically slashed funding for life-saving humanitarian aid at a time when the world is experiencing some of the worst humanitarian crises in modern history. Likewise, President Trump wanted to make severe cuts to global health and poverty-fighting development aid, abandoning our best allies in the fight against injustice and despair.

Thankfully, Congress has a different view. Senate appropriators passed a funding bill that maintains America’s commitment to support people struggling to build a better future, because they recognize that this commitment is a source of our strength.

As Congress finalizes the budget it will send to the president, we urge the House of Representatives to join with the Senate and reject short-sighted, hard-hearted cuts to key international affairs accounts that are essential to fighting poverty and building prosperity. These cuts do virtually nothing to balance the federal budget or curb the national debt – the targeted accounts represent less than 1 percent of federal spending, at a time when the president’s agenda calls for massively expanding the deficit through tax giveaways to big corporations. The president’s cuts would, however, send an unmistakable signal to friends around the world—that “America First” means you can’t count on the United States to stand with you anymore.

The Senate international affairs budget funding bill rightly rejects this message as callous and un-American, and disastrous for the credibility and moral authority of the United States. Recognizing that fighting extreme poverty is a shared responsibility, the Senate also protects vital multilateral funds. Unfortunately, both House and Senate bills fall short in the area of collective security, and Oxfam calls on conferees to uphold our responsibility to lead and support UN peacekeeping efforts at the full assessed rate.

Poverty, injustice, and humanitarian disasters won’t go away just because we stop helping to address them. It is irresponsible to pull back and hope others will step in to fill the void. We urge the House to do its part this week and ensure that crucial, life-saving humanitarian and development funding is not tossed aside.


Join us! Tell Congress we must protect US foreign aid.

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