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Feb 15, 2008

Global Poverty Act Senate Progress

As you may already be aware, the Global Poverty Act was considered in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 13th and we were very pleased to see that the Committee passed the bill this morning!

The Global Poverty Act was originally sponsored in the House by Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) and it passed there last fall by a voice vote (indicating it wasn't controversial). Senator Obama introduced the Senate version in December along with Chuck Hagel (R-Neb) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA). It has since gathered great support from the development community, and has cosponsors across the political spectrum from Hagel and Lugar, to Feinstein, Biden, and Dodd.

The bill makes two important contributions. First it commits Congress and U.S. policy more completely to supporting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): These MDGs represent the first time the nations of the world, all 190 of them, agreed on a set of eight development benchmarks to achieve by 2015, notably cutting extreme poverty in half. Second, the bill would help coordinate and make the most of U.S. assistance (currently spread over a couple dozen different budget lines). It doesn't add any funding to current poverty related development assistance, but that can only help it pass in a politicized and abbreviated election-year congressional session.

By all the evidence there's momentum behind the bill and it fairly cries out for people of good will to do what we can to help it pass a floor vote in the Senate!

Now would be a great time for a 3-5 sentence postcard, email, or phone call to urge your members of the Senate to vote for, support, and work to pass the Global Poverty Act.

Glen Gersmehl