Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) made a statement for the Congressional Record in support of H.R. 2061, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act. In particular, he highlighted his language in the bill that urges the U.S. to do more to address global poverty.

Due to Smith’s efforts, the House International Relations Committee, of which Smith is a member, agreed to include language declaring that the elimination of extreme global poverty should be a top priority of U.S. foreign policy. It also says the U.S. should work with all the players involved, including developing countries, donor countries and multilateral institutions to coordinate policy to address global poverty. Finally, the language urges the President to develop a comprehensive strategy to eliminate global poverty, which should include foreign assistance, foreign and local investment, technical assistance, private-public partnerships and debt relief.

Smith has been deeply focused on the issue of global poverty and in March, 2005 he participated in the Trade and Poverty Forum in Nagoya Japan.  The forum brought together leaders from the business, political and NGO communities to develop strategies for combating poverty.  Smith understands that our nation must make a greater commitment to poverty alleviation and view these efforts as an investment that can foster global stability and security, build alliances throughout the world and reduce the sense of hopelessness that drives so many extremist organizations like the al Qaeda network.  He is committed to helping marshal the political and social will to address global poverty. 

Below, is the text of his statement:

Mr. Speaker,

Today, I rise to discuss the need for the United States to be a true leader in the fight against global poverty. More than 1 billion people live on less than $1 a day and another 2.7 billion people struggle to survive on less than $2 a day. So what do these numbers really mean? They mean that well over half of the world’s population is struggling in poverty and one-sixth of the world’s population can’t meet even the most basic needs for survival. This is morally unacceptable.

I applaud the President’s leadership on the issue, including his commitments to increased debt relief and direct assistance to Africa that were discussed recently at the G-8 summit in Scotland. Programs like the Millennium Challenge Account, which have allowed us to increase development aid and target it more effectively, are an important part of the solution. But, the United States still lacks a comprehensive strategy to help eliminate extreme global poverty. We need to leverage development aid, debt relief, technical assistance and public private partnerships. We need to coordinate with world bodies, including the United Nations, in helping impoverished countries devise plans that will work for them.

I’m pleased that this bill includes language that will move us in the right direction. The language, that I requested be added to the bill as it was being drafted in committee, declares that the elimination of extreme global poverty should be a top foreign policy priority for the United States and that the U.S. should work with all the players involved in this fight, including developing and donor countries and multilateral institutions to coordinate polices to address global poverty. Most importantly, the language urges the President to develop a comprehensive strategy to eliminate extreme global poverty. It says this plan should include foreign assistance, foreign and local private investment, technical assistance, private-public partnerships and debt relief.

I’d like to thank Chairman Hyde and the entire International Relations Committee for including this language in the bill. The United States has the opportunity to take a firm leadership role in bringing relief and a better future for billions of people around the world. The time to act is now and we can get started with developing a comprehensive plan and I look forward to continuing to work in a bipartisan fashion on increasing the United States commitment to global poverty.