Saturday, December 06, 2008

PopNews: Fall Legislative Update

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PopNews: Fall Legislative Update

U.S. investments in voluntary family planning and reproductive health care make a profound difference in saving women’s lives, improving community health and ensuring a more sustainable environmental future. With a new federal administration getting ready for progressive action on the economic, environmental and women's rights issues we care about, where do we stand with international family planning funding and appropriations?

International Family Planning
We are pleased to announce that in a few short weeks, President-elect Barack Obama is expected to fund global family planning by rescinding the global gag rule through executive order, and refunding UNFPA in his budget proposal to Congress. This is a huge victory for increased access to voluntary family planning and environmental protection! But the fight isn’t over yet.

Current funding is $461 million for USAID’s overseas family planning program; the Bush Administration, for the seventh consecutive year, blocked any U.S. contribution to UNFPA. This year, we are projecting $600 million in the House with $60 million of this for UNFPA (note: this has not been approved yet by the full appropriations subcommittee), and $540 million with another $45 million for UNFPA in the Senate.

Now is the time to hold the new Administration and Congress accountable for advancing a progressive reproductive health and environment agenda. We will continue to urge decision-makers to invest $1 billion in international family planning programs, including $65 million for UNFPA.

The Global Resources and Opportunities for Women to Thrive Act (H.R. 2965/S. 2069)
The GROWTH Act proposes important change to U.S. international assistance and trade programs to promote economic opportunities for women living in poverty worldwide. Gender equity and women’s empowerment are critical components of sustainable development, economic growth, and environmental protection. In order to alleviate poverty and foster healthy communities, investing in women is paramount.

With the combined efforts of almost 60 faith-based, non-governmental and development organizations—including Sierra Club -- endorsing the GROWTH Act, there is strong bipartisan support in the 110th Congress with 71 co-sponsors in the House and 14 co-sponsors in the Senate. This year we will continue to build bipartisan support for this vital legislation.

The Global Poverty Act (H.R.1302/S.2433)
The Global Poverty Act would direct the President to create and implement a comprehensive strategy to reduce poverty worldwide. This strategy would include measurable goals and increased coordination between public and private interests as well as economic and humanitarian interests. Specifically, it would ensure that U.S. foreign policy includes implementation of the Millennium Development Goals to alleviate poverty and promote long-term sustainable development, to improve people’s lives and the health of our environment.

There are currently 84 cosponsors in the House and 30 cosponsors in the Senate. In 2009 we will be pushing for more support as well as passage of the bill!

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