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Lutheran World Relief Responds to House Budget Cuts
Baltimore, February 23, 2011 — Last
week the House of Representatives voted to cut more than $60 billion in
U.S. international and domestic spending for the remainder of the
current fiscal year. Although supportive of efforts to better steward
public funds, Lutheran World Relief (LWR) urges U.S. Lutherans and
lawmakers to remember that, when it comes to global relief and
development, human lives hang in the balance.
LWR President and CEO John Nunes released a letter to U.S.
Lutherans before the vote saying that, “At less than one percent of the
total national budget, global development assistance is one of the best
investments our country can make. Through modest and strategic
assistance, the U.S. puts the values Lutherans embody into action:
accompaniment, sustainability, sufficiency, mercy and human dignity.”
“It is incredible to imagine that in response to the next
humanitarian crisis, the next Haiti or Darfur, that our country might
simply fail to show up,” says LWR Director of Public Policy and
Advocacy, Annalise Romoser. “But that is precisely what could happen if
this bill (H.R. 1) becomes law.”
The bill cuts global disaster aid by 67 percent, global refugee
assistance by 45 percent and emergency food aid by 41 percent relative
to 2010 levels. Ironically, in addition to life threatening cuts to
disaster relief programs, it could effectively eliminate U.S. assistance
to help farmers in the developing world grow more of their own food,
thus making already vulnerable communities more susceptible to food
shortages and more reliant on emergency food aid. It also reduces
global health accounts and programs that successfully help prevent
“Addressing the drivers of the national debt is a reasonable priority
for Congress,” states Romoser. “But international assistance is simply
not one of those drivers. Cuts to these programs do little to balance
the budget and put innocent lives and our country’s reputation as a
global leader at risk.”
Although LWR receives the vast majority of its funding from Lutheran
churches, individuals and denominations, not from the government, it
believes that complementary government assistance provides critical
resources to the marginalized and impoverished communities with which it
works. As a result, it has called on its supporters to contact their
members of Congress and to share with them the value they place on
global relief and development.
By supporting its community-based relief and development work around
the world, LWR supporters have already demonstrated the value U.S.
Lutherans place on development assistance. They have helped LWR reach
countless communities in need of disaster relief, support for improved
food production and interventions to help prevent the spread of deadly
diseases such as malaria. U.S. investments in global development enhance
these programs, allowing more people to receive effective life-saving
care and resources.