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CRS Commends Congress for Omnibus Spending Bill

January 17, 2014 by

Legislation Includes Funding and Policies that Support Overseas Poverty Programs

WASHINGTON, DC, January 17, 2014 — Catholic Relief Services (CRS) commends Congress for reaching consensus on an annual Omnibus appropriations bill that includes important funding and policy directions for many international poverty-focused programs in a difficult fiscal environment.

“Pope Francis has called on all of us to help the poorest and we appreciate that the leaders of the appropriations process began answering that call,” said Bill O’Keefe, CRS’ Vice President for Advocacy. “We hope this is an important step toward a more normal budget and appropriations process than the last few years. Thoughtful, long-term decision-making is necessary to effectively help the poor.”

CRS particularly commends Congress for maintaining funding for overseas developmental food aid and taking important steps to reform the international food aid program. Food for Peace, the part of the government that manages most of US international food aid, provides emergency aid to people impacted by crises and long-term development assistance to help poor communities grow more food.

“Investing in developmental food aid helps to prevent costlier crises in the future,” noted O’Keefe.

Also, by directing $35 million in Food for Peace resources to cash assistance, Congress will allow organizations like CRS to reduce their reliance on monetization, the selling of commodities abroad to raise proceeds for valuable community-level work. The change made in the appropriations bill increases the efficiency of international food aid and therefore the number of people benefitting from this program.

“Congress has shown real leadership by embracing reforms to international food aid, and we hope they continue down this path in the final negotiations around the Farm Bill,” said O’Keefe.

Food for Peace, global health and humanitarian funding were all increased in the omnibus. Noting the current ongoing crises in Syria, the Central African Republic and South Sudan, O’Keefe added “Easing the impact of such emergencies on the most vulnerable can help avoid future conflicts that will lead to increased suffering and a higher chance of even costlier U.S. intervention.”

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Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in nearly 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. For more information, please visit crs.org or crsespanol.org.

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