Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) voted for H.R. 3057, the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill for FY 2006. While not perfect, the bill increases funding to combat HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria and increases funds for the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) and humanitarian relief efforts in Sudan.

“Global poverty is a destabilizing force with moral, humanitarian, economic and security consequences,” said Smith. “I’m pleased that this bill provides $2.7 billion to combat HIV infection, TB and malaria, a 23% increase over the current spending level. These diseases are devastating generations of people throughout the world and we have the resources to help combat these deadly diseases. I’m pleased that we are increasing the funding levels, but a great deal more remains to be done.”

Overall, the United States has contributed well over half of all international funds for global HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs.

Smith also noted, “I was pleased to see that funding levels for the MCA were increased over current spending levels, but was disappointed that the House budget allocation for the Foreign Operations subcommittee was so low that providing more funding was not possible.”

The bill provides $1.75 billion for the MCA, which is $272 million more than the current level. The MCA grants assistance to countries that meet certain standards, including attacking corruption, respecting human rights, adhering to the rule of law, investing in health and education, encouraging economic freedom and maintaining sound budget policies.

“We have a long way to go in the United States in combating global poverty,” Smith continued. “With the upcoming G8 summit focusing on global poverty, particularly in Africa, I will soon be introducing a bill in the House of Representatives that calls on the Bush Administration to make a firm commitment to fighting global poverty and come up with a concrete plan to address this issue. We have a moral obligation to help those around the world who face dire poverty on a daily basis.  We can help and the time is now to fight global poverty before it drives millions of people into desperation and into the hands of extremist organizations like the al Qaeda network.”

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 for billions of people.  He is committed to helping marshal the political and social will to address global poverty.