ONE members have been very busy meeting with their senators’ district staffs. The timing of these meetings could not be more critical. The House of Representatives recently voted to make huge cuts in this year’s budget. Poverty-fighting, cost-effective programs — which make up less than 1 percent of the US budget — were sharply cut. The Global Fund was cut by more than 40 percent. Other programs that promote long-term economic growth like education, access to clean water, maternal health and vaccines for babies and were chopped up to 30 percent. We know Congress faces tough choices on the budget, but these cuts are not good choices. They will do little to help the US economy, yet the axe is going to fall hardest on the people who can least afford them.
I was excited to pull together a group of ONE volunteers (who also turned out to all be ELCA Lutherans, too) to meet with Senator Pat Toomey’s Philadelphia staff to discus the value of life-saving programs. We discussed the economic challenges that our church body is facing while remaining committed to our promises to respond to the crisis of extreme poverty and preventable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. The newly elected senator’s staff was eager to listen and thoroughly discuss effective responses to needs both globally and in the United States. We met for nearly and hour and left encouraged that Senator Toomey will work to be a part of a compassionate, smart and effective response to global poverty.