2009 Campaign a Success
This article originally appeared in the April - May 2010 Newsletter.
Bread for the World is well into its current Offering of Letters campaign—which urges Congress to protect and strengthen tax credits that benefit low-income working families—but we wanted to update you on the progress of the 2009 campaign.
In 2009, our Offering of Letters pushed Congress and the Obama administration to reform the way the United States delivers foreign aid—to make it more effective in promoting development and fighting poverty.
Specifically, Bread set the following goals:
- Congressional hearings on approaches to foreign aid reform.
- The appointment of a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) administrator who shared some or all of Bread’s goals and principles.
- A sign-on letter circulating in Congress that embraced most or all of Bread’s principles.
- A presidential directive that mandates better coordination of U.S. foreign assistance and elevates attention to development in foreign policy decision-making.
- Substantive conversations between the administration and Congress about new approaches to foreign aid and global development.
- The appointment of a person or high-level group to formulate a national strategy for global development and/or foreign assistance.
- House and Senate coordination and cooperation to write a new Foreign Assistance Act.
- Introduction of legislation in both houses of Congress that represents an emerging consensus on a fresh approach to global development and U.S. foreign assistance.
- Introduction of a bipartisan Congressional Resolution in support of Bread’s goals and principles.
- Passage of legislation that charts a new course for global development and U.S. foreign assistance.
Because of your letters, phone calls, prayers, and visits, we accomplished the first eight goals—a wonderful success!
Overall, the campaign moved the State Department, the White House, and both houses of Congress toward broad reforms of U.S. foreign assistance and development policy.
The State Department and the White House both launched studies of development policy across the government. The State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review will be completed this fall, and the results of President Obama’s Presidential Study Directive are due this spring.
And in Congress, bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House and Senate to begin the process of reforming U.S. foreign assistance.
The House bill, called the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 2139), asks the president to develop and implement a comprehensive national strategy for global development. It currently has a bipartisan list of 126 cosponsors.
The Senate bill, the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009 (S. 1524), has 24 bipartisan cosponsors and has been approved by the Foreign Relations Committee. The main thrust of the bill is to strengthen USAID, the primary agency responsible for poverty-focused development.
With these two bills, there was no need for a bipartisan Congressional Resolution (benchmark nine).
In addition, the House Foreign Affairs Committee staff are well on their way to rewriting the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, also due out this spring. We will continue to work on this issue until the new act is approved (benchmark 10).
Achieving these goals is a testament to your tremendous efforts. Last year, more than 1,500 Offerings of Letters took place in churches, campuses, and community settings across the country—generating 140,000 letters—and Bread activists made nearly 8,500 phone calls to Congress. In addition, many traveled to Washington, DC, or congressional districts to lobby senators and representatives. For example, Bread activists met with Sen. Kit Bond’s (R-MO) chief of staff in a district office, and the senator became a cosponsor of S. 1524 several weeks later.
Thank you for your strong, faithful advocacy in helping to change the way our country delivers assistance. A more efficient system means that hungry and poor people around the world will get help faster—and more effectively.