WASHINGTON–Catholic Relief Services expresses its appreciation for the actions of the House Appropriations subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs for maintaining funding levels for the Presidents’ Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other poverty-focused aid accounts in a bill reported out of the subcommittee this week.
“We understand that this is a time of great fiscal pressure,” said Bill O’Keefe, CRS’ Senior Vice President for Advocacy. “That is why we are especially pleased that subcommittee chair Kay Granger and ranking member Nita Lowey worked together to ensure that these crucial programs will continue to help so many in need around the world.”
O’Keefe singled out the maintenance of PEPFAR funding levels at $5.5 billion, and the $47 million recommended for Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance.
“The subcommittee recognized that through PEPFAR we are pushing back hard against the pandemic of HIV and AIDS as we are helping to build up health systems around the world,” O’Keefe said. “Its members understood that as we transition the PEPFAR programs to local partners, it is not the time to cut back on funding or we could lose the gains that we have made.
“As for the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance, you just have to look at places like Mali, South Sudan and Somalia to see how crucial this is to helping innocent people caught up in events beyond their control,” he said.
While the overall House State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs bill saw a recommended 10 percent reduction, some programs that CRS sees as key to helping the most vulnerable people overseas were recommended for smaller cuts or maintained current levels. The priority the subcommittee placed on poverty-focused accounts as a whole will help build a solid foundation for funding poverty-focused programs.
“While we appreciate that the subcommittee did not take a great reduction out of International Disaster Assistance and funded Migration and Refugee Assistance at a level higher than the administration asked, we will be looking for additional support for these and other important programs,” O’Keefe said.
To interview Bill O’Keefe, contact CRS Senior Writer Michael Hill.