Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) reintroduced the Global Poverty Act yesterday, legislation that would require the Administration to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to combat and reduce global poverty.

“Global poverty is one of the most pressing moral challenges we face today,” said Congressman Adam Smith. “Yet, it’s more than just a moral problem that billions of people around the world are struggling to survive.  It is also in our national security interests that we reduce global poverty. Populations that struggle in extreme poverty are more likely to become mired in destabilizing conflicts, or worse, become havens or recruiting grounds for terrorist organizations.  This is an issue that we cannot afford to neglect.”

“U.S. foreign policy must be enhanced and better coordinated in the fight against global poverty. While the United States continues to significantly invest in reducing poverty worldwide, we do not have a comprehensive strategy that measures and guides our progress. We have committed to the goal of reducing poverty as a country though various programs and organizations, but we are not making adequate progress due to a lack of a unified strategy.  This bill will require the Administration to establish the benchmarks necessary to achieve significant poverty reduction and keep us on track toward that goal.  It will lead to more accountability and more effective efforts.  ”

The Global Poverty Act:

  • Declares it official U.S. policy to promote the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty, and the achievement of the U.N. Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme global poverty in half by 2015.
  • Requires the President to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to carry out that policy. 
  • Includes guidelines for what the strategy should include - from aid, trade, and debt relief, to working with the international community, businesses and NGOs, to ensuring environmental sustainability. 
  • Requires that the President’s strategy include specific and measurable goals, efforts to be undertaken, benchmarks, and timetables. 
  • Requires the President to report back to Congress on progress made in the implementation of the global poverty strategy.
In September of 2007, the Global Poverty Act of 2007 passed the House of Representatives. The bill then passed the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee in February of 2008, but was not scheduled for a vote on the Senate floor before the end of the 110th Congress.