Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself, others by first do no harm or take no more than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?
In this season of gratitude, compassion and giving, we are reminded of the call to serve the least among us—a call that Congress must answer.
As the world enters its ninth month of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the full and lasting impact is becoming clear. The World Food Program estimates that by the end of 2020, 265 million people will face acute hunger, nearly double the 2019 estimate of 135 million. More than 1.6 billion children have been affected by school closures, including over 460 million who lack of access to remote learning tools. Global vaccination rates for diseases such as polio and measles have been set back 25 years in 25 weeks. Despite the promise of a vaccine, the virus’s toll will echo for decades, impacting the growth and education of a generation.
However, we know there is hope. The world has come together in solidarity, giving more than $20 trillion to fight the virus and its aftershocks. Despite this massive global effort, Congress has chipped in just $2.4 billion to support the international response to the pandemic—less than 1% of the amount it has spent helping Americans. While domestic needs remain substantial, the United States can, and absolutely must, do more to serve the least among us—regardless of borders.
The United States can, and absolutely must, do more to serve the least among us—regardless of borders.
In July, the House passed its spending package for the fiscal year 2021 (H.R. 7608), which included $10 billion for the international COVID-19 response, five times the amount provided in previous COVID-19 supplemental packages. Yet this commitment was not matched in the Senate’s recent proposed budget for fiscal year 2021. Regrettably, the Senate proposal included no funding for COVID-19 response, going so far as to offer in its explanatory statement that “to the extent necessary,” the Senate “will seek to address [needs related to COVID–19] in future supplemental appropriations.” But based on past actions, Congress is unlikely to provide substantial international assistance in a supplemental.
Congress now faces a Dec. 11 deadline to prevent a government shutdown and agree on its budget for fiscal year 2021. During the coming weeks of negotiations, as the pandemic surges, members of Congress must answer the universal call to serve the most vulnerable, and they must agree to support the international response to COVID-19.
Join us in urging Congress to meet the need of the hour and provide robust funding for the international response to COVID-19. Remind your members of Congress of the truth of Alexander’s verse, that the mightiest word is love – and there are no exceptions to “love thy neighbor” in a pandemic.