Lutheran World Relief Responds to House Budget Cuts

Feb 23, 2011, 11:08 ET from Lutheran World Relief

BALTIMORE, Feb. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 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 infant mortality.

"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.

WHO IS LWR? Lutheran World Relief, an international nonprofit organization, works to end poverty and injustice by empowering some of the world's most impoverished communities to help themselves. With partners in 35 countries, LWR seeks to promote sustainable development with justice and dignity by helping communities bring about change for healthy, safe and secure lives; engage in Fair Trade; promote peace and reconciliation; and respond to emergencies. LWR is headquartered in Baltimore, Md. and has worked in international development and relief since 1945.

Lutheran World Relief is a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), individuals and parish groups in international relief, development, advocacy and social responsibility.

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Annalise Romoser

SOURCE Lutheran World Relief