In August, members of Congress return to their districts to hear from their constituents about issues that matter at home. Let your member of Congress know that you support cost-effective international development programs that save the lives of poor women and children and that you don’t want them slashed.
Call Your Member of Congress
Members of Congress listen to their constituents far more than they listen to Washington lobbyists or other experts – you’re their boss since you vote for them.
2. Call the member’s office and say:
“Hi, my name is _________ and I’m a constituent of Representative _____. I am a strong supporter of programs that help alleviate poverty and suffering in poor countries. Could I please speak with your aide who handles foreign aid funding issues?”
Once you are transferred to the correct person say:
“The United States is facing a tough budget environment and I understand that no program will go untouched by cuts. However, the Senate’s proposed funding level (rather than that proposed by the House of Representatives) better reflects both our values as Americans and my deep commitment to helping the world’s most poor and vulnerable.
I urge Representative _____ to push the key decision-makers in the House of Representatives to support the Senate’s foreign aid funding levels rather than the House’s level. Could you give Rep. _____ this message please?
3. Helpful hints:
- Be polite, grateful and positive. (You will be speaking with a staff member of your member of Congress so remember they are the gatekeeper to their boss.)
- Start off by saying how much you appreciate the opportunity to leave your opinion.
- Briefly lay out the case in no more than one minute.
- Ask the staffer you speak with what his/her boss’ thoughts are on the issue.
- If they say they’re already on board, thank them for their support and ask what you can do to help them continue to support these lifesaving programs.
- If they push back and explain why they can’t support the programs, be polite but firm in your reply.
DO say: “I understand what you’re saying and I know we have to balance our budget, but I just wanted to let you know how much support there is for this in our district and that many of my friends feel the same way I do.”
DO NOT get into a debate with them: your goal isn’t to convince them you’re right, your goal is just to demonstrate local support for these programs.
- Finish by asking if there’s anything you can do to follow up and continue the relationship.
- Make sure to get an email address for the staffer – that’s how most communication takes place in congressional offices, making it incredibly simple to build relationships and remind them over and over again of your support for these poverty-reducing programs.
- After the call, send an email to the member of Congress or the congressional staffer and thank them for their time and their thoughts. Remind them of the conversation you had and let them know you’ll continue to be in touch as opportunities arise for Rep.____ to demonstrate his/her support for these lifesaving and poverty-reducing programs that make our world a safer and better place to be.
Faith Based Talking Points in Support of Foreign Assistance Funding
- The Federal Budget expresses our character and values as a people. I urge Congress to give priority to programs that protect life and dignity, especially for the most vulnerable and impoverished.
- For less than one penny of every one U.S. taxpayer dollar, this funding enables life-saving and life-enriching programs that can help break the cycles of poverty and introduce productive opportunities for individuals, families, and communities around the world.
- Churches and faith-based organizations’ deep, abiding relationships with sister churches and organizations overseas enable us to implement our expert development assistance and humanitarian relief in some of the world’s most remote places.
- These efforts and my call are grounded in the commitment of my faith to alleviate suffering and help all people experience the fullness of life that God intends. I believe that God has given our nation the necessary resources and the responsibility to support the alleviation and elimination of global poverty.
- Any efforts to address the deficit should protect poverty-focused accounts from disproportionate cuts that will undermine our values, jeopardize the lives of our brothers and sisters living in poverty around the world, and further destabilize fragile societies.
- Public sector dollars are substantially leveraged by non-government revenue sources, including from the US faith community, which has faithfully supported humanitarian and development programs for decades.
- Faith-based organizations and churches are bringing resources and expertise to many communities, but to tackle the overwhelming challenges of poverty globally, the leadership of the US government is key to ensure that programs are coordinated and effective.
The State, Foreign Operations (SFOPs) bill, which funds international programs such as maternal and child health, vulnerable children, HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases, faces a 15% cut under the House of Representatives’ budget plan – and that’s on top of cuts from sequestration. This, despite the fact that these programs make up less than 1 percent of the Federal Budget.
Meanwhile, the House is proposing spending increases for a number of areas including the legislative branch (which covers congressional salaries). The argument that “we have to cut somewhere” no longer holds up when the cuts aren’t applied even-handedly. To propose a deep cut for some and increases for others is not sharing the burden.
It is time to tell Congress that disproportionate cuts to these lifesaving and poverty-reducing programs harm our national interest and undermine our moral leadership around the world. Get involved by contacting your member of Congress and showing them how much support there is for poverty-focused development programs throughout the U.S.
*This estimated cut does not include Overseas Contingency Operations.