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On March 26, twenty Senators sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee calling for robust funding of refugee accounts in fiscal year 2019. This letter was lead by Senator Blumenthal, and it stresses the importance of fully funding the refugee programs located in the Department of Health and Human Services and the State Department.

Dear Chairman Cochran and Vice Chairman Leahy:

As you consider funding for appropriations for Fiscal Year 2019, we request you to include robust funding for programs affecting refugees and other vulnerable populations. This funding helps support our national security and foreign policy interests by maintaining support for international humanitarian assistance and displacement assistance, including refugee resettlement. It is crucially important that the Committee allocate adequate funding to the Department of Health and Human Service’s Refugee and Entrant Assistance (REA) account and Department of State’s International Affairs accounts, including the Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA), the Emergency Refugee and Migration (ERMA), and the International Disaster Assistance (IDA) accounts.

Once again, the Administration has proposed eliminating the ERMA account which provides vital funding for the United States to respond to occurring and unforeseen humanitarian emergencies. This account strengthens regional stability and promotes our national security interests. Many nations hosting substantial numbers of refugees are among the least developed nations who do not have adequate resources to support these populations on their own and require ERMA support. Eliminating this critical account betrays our humanitarian commitments and relations with countries that look to the United States for assistance as a world leader. 

The United States must not falter in its commitment to humanitarian aid when 65.6 million people are displaced worldwide and need help. As you know, the United States has a proud tradition of funding life-saving humanitarian assistance, and such support is beneficial to both our country and the international community. It advances our national security interest by working to support humanitarian assistance in conflict zones, as well as the stability of our allies and partners hosting refugees – strengthening our strategic security goals. We are concerned that underfunding these accounts will create a funding void that may not be filled. It is more important than ever for the United States clearly reaffirm its commitment to providing lifesaving humanitarian assistance to the world’s most vulnerable populations. Accordingly, we request that the Committee allocates the following funds:

  • \$2.188 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Refugee and Entrant Assistance (REA) account;

  • \$3.604 billion for the Department of State’s Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) account;

  • \$50 million for the Department of State’s Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA) account; and

  • \$4.4 billion for the U.S. Agency for International Development’s International Disaster Assistance (IDA) account.

The United States has a proud moral tradition and heritage of aiding refugees who need our help when their homelands are in turmoil – a tradition and heritage which we must maintain in the face of today’s horrific conflicts in the Middle East and beyond. Draconian cuts to the international affairs budget as proposed by the Trump Administration will not make us safer, and in fact is a direct threat to our national security because of the vacuum in support and leadership such cuts create. As such, we urge you to provide strong funding in Fiscal Year 2019 to the critical agencies that support our national security interests and serve the world’s most vulnerable populations. Thank you for consideration of these requests.


Richard Blumenthal

Edward J. Markey

Kristen Gillibrand

Tom Carper

Chris Van Hollen

Richard J. Durbin

Jeffrey A. Merkley

Tammy Duckworth

Sherrod Brown

Bernard Sanders

Robert Menendez

Maria Cantwell

Kamala D. Harris

Tina Smith

Elizabeth Warren

Cory A. Booker

Tammy Baldwin

Sheldon Whitehouse

Mazie K. Hirono

Tim Kaine

Dianne Feinstein

Benjamin L. Cardin

Ron Wyden

Christopher A. Coons

Margaret Wood Hassan

To download a PDF version of the letter, click below:

Susan Nahvi

Susan Nahvi

Major Gifts Officer

Traveling throughout the U.S., Susan connects passionate individuals with opportunities to support FCNL’s work.