Oxfam to Congress: "Don't be lame! Save poverty fighting aid!"

By Laura Rusu

WASHINGTON, DC – With the 2012 election over and Congress diving back into the budget deficit debate during their lame duck session, international relief and development organization Oxfam America today urged members of the House and Senate to support Senate funding levels in the omnibus spending bill and avoid any further cuts to global poverty assistance.

In a stunt in front of the Capitol, Oxfam activists inflated a giant 15x18 foot yellow duck to make its point that cutting foreign aid would simply be lame. The activists also delivered a packet of yellow duck-shaped candies and information about life saving foreign aid directly to each House and Senate office to help drive the message home.

“Congress shouldn’t duck common sense as it wades through the upcoming budget negotiations,” said Linda Delgado, government affairs director for Oxfam America. “The fight against global poverty is one of America’s proudest traditions and smartest investments. Congress must protect these vital programs from cuts – they save millions of lives, help people thrive, and reduce the need for assistance in the long run.”

Effective aid has reduced the number of children who die before their fifth birthday by four million since 1990, put 33 million more children in the classroom, provided urgent humanitarian assistance to tens of millions of people affected by natural disasters and conflicts, and increased tenfold the number of people receiving HIV/AIDS medication. US aid also helps people and countries around the world invest in their own self-reliance, reducing the need for assistance over the long term.

“America’s investments in the fight against poverty have helped eradicate polio, fuel the Green Revolution, and rebuild shattered economies,” said Gregory Adams, director of aid effectiveness for Oxfam America. “Foreign aid has also helped build some of America’s strongest allies, like Turkey, South Korea, and Poland. When you look at that record, and then consider the cost—less than one percent of the federal budget—Congress would have to be quackers to vote to cut aid!”

In order to help address the need of those living in acute poverty, Oxfam urged Congress to fund poverty-focused accounts to at least FY 2013 Senate levels. Any further cuts would disrupt life-saving programs and dismantle much of the progress the US government has made in recent decades to improve the efficiency and impact of our assistance.  Worse yet, if Congress is unable to reach agreement on sequestration before the end of the year, devastating automatic cuts will kick in that could make the difference between life and death for many of the world’s poor but would not even make a dent to help solve our federal budget deficit.

“Lifesaving foreign aid is often unfairly singled out for ugly duckling cuts in Washington’s budget fights,” said Delgado. “The leadership in the House and Senate must get their ducks in a row and support Senate funding levels for poverty-focused development assistance and prevent devastating mandatory cuts to these life-saving programs.”

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