Mercy Corps: Presidential Budget Request At Odds With U.S. Values

United States, February 12, 2018

Statement from Neal Keny-Guyer, Chief Executive Officer

Portland, Ore. — For the second year in a row, the Administration released a U.S. government budget request that undermines national interests and is at odds with the charitable, humanitarian character of the American people. In once again cutting foreign assistance funding in the FY 2019 Budget by approximately 30 percent, the Administration suggests that it has not heard the messages of the American people and their representatives. We are deeply disappointed in this proposal.

Whether it’s saving lives, helping families build better lives for themselves, or reducing conflict in chronically violent places, foreign assistance represents only about one percent of the national budget and is worth the investment for a more peaceful and prosperous world.

Throughout 2017, Congress, business leaders, faith leaders, and military commanders were loud and clear in supporting international assistance as critical to U.S. national security and global economic prosperity. Multiple U.S. military leaders have testified before Congress, explaining how alleviating poverty, addressing public health crises such as Ebola, and building basic institutional infrastructure to deliver services are critical for global stability. Many have also warned about this abrupt announcement of the drawdown in United States international engagement, arguing that it will undermine U.S. global leadership and soft power, negatively impact our allies and empower our foes. As public opinion polls suggest, most Americans do not want to withdraw from world affairs, or cede American global leadership to our competitors.

Moreover, Americans weighed in in large numbers against cutting foreign assistance, writing to their congressional representatives last year, referencing the strong tradition of American generosity toward those in need globally and asking for continued American leadership, in the form of foreign assistance dollars. Indeed, Americans also made this clear through their checkbooks; last year, tens of millions of Americans gave personal charitable contributions, trying to help families in need from Syria to South Sudan to Bangladesh.

We cherish the American system of checks and balances, particularly over powers of the purse strings. We look forward to continuing the conversation with members of Congress about how we should best respond to the increasingly volatile, violent and ungoverned world. At a time when 815 million people go to bed hungry every night, and almost 66 million are displaced from their homes, the cuts proposed in the Administration's budget request do not demonstrate American leadership, they demonstrate American retreat. Now, more than ever, America cannot afford to cede its global position in an effort to shape a more peaceful and prosperous world.

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