Tell Congress #WhyForeignAid

This is a copy of a letter to members of congress signed by PSI and dozens of other NGOs, advocacy groups and others concerned that efforts to reduce the US deficit might negatively affect America’s global leadership role.

Dear Senator/Representative,

As organizations working to end poverty and respond to emergencies around the world, we write to strongly urge you to support the Senate’s fiscal year 2013 overall funding level for the International Affairs Budget in order to protect its poverty-focused accounts throughout all upcoming budget negotiations, including negotiations to avert or delay the sequester.

The budget decisions facing you in the months ahead are daunting, and are of tremendous importance for millions of lives around the world and the future of United States’ security and economic prosperity. There is no doubt that our nation’s fiscal house must be put in order, but it must be done thoughtfully and comprehensively, while ensuring a bright and secure future for the U.S.

This year has witnessed historic events—from the Syrian uprising, to democratic elections in Egypt, to food crises of major proportions in both the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. These events demonstrate in stark terms the dynamic nature of the world around us and the need for strong and effective diplomatic and development tools. The Senate’s funding levels for the International Affairs Budget and its poverty-focused accounts, forged under the bipartisan leadership of Senators Patrick Leahy and Lindsey Graham, recognize current fiscal limitations while enabling continued investments that save lives, increase our national security, and spur economic development both at home and around the world.

Additional cuts to the International Affairs Budget – on top of the 15% budget reductions imposed over the last two years – are not the answer. At only 1.4% of the federal budget, cuts to the International Affairs Budget will not address our deficit and they will risk lives and contribute to further destabilization of volatile regions critical to U.S. interests. The effects of sequestration or any other cuts to poverty-focused accounts could indiscriminately cost lives, put the U.S. on the sidelines in influencing rapidly transforming regions of the world, and signal a dramatic decline of U.S. leadership in promoting a more stable and prosperous world.

The outcomes of deficit reduction negotiations provide an opportunity for you to ensure that U.S. leadership remains strong. We cannot betray our nation’s longstanding moral leadership by scaling back humanitarian assistance as food crises endanger millions of lives. We cannot afford to curtail critical programs that expand markets for U.S. products and help create American jobs. We cannot turn our backs on the millions of people seeking to democratically choose their own leaders and government institutions. And we simply cannot risk the prospect of future, expensive military action by ignoring problems that can be addressed today.

As you work towards larger deficit reduction and finalize the budget for fiscal year 2013, we urge you to demonstrate bold leadership by stopping sequestration and supporting the Senate’s funding levels for the International Affairs Budget in order to protect its poverty-focused accounts. We simply cannot afford further deep cuts that put lives and America’s moral and strategic interests at risk.

Thank you for your consideration.