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Church Leaders Urge U.S. Congress to Support U.S. Foreign Aid Reform Bill

WASHINGTON, May 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- U.S. church bodies, convened by the Christian anti-hunger advocacy group Bread for the World, are petitioning Congress to pass the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 2139). The bipartisan bill starts the process of overhauling U.S. foreign assistance programs to make them more efficient and focused on fighting poverty.

"People of faith want our country's foreign assistance to do the best job possible of helping hungry and poor people around the world," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. "U.S. foreign assistance is helping save millions of lives, improving agricultural productivity and increasing school enrollment. But more lives can be saved and more can be done if we improve how we deliver foreign aid."

Bread for the World and other faith groups are calling on millions of their constituents to urge their U.S. representatives to cosponsor H.R. 2139. As part of the effort, church leaders around the nation are sending joint letters to legislators in their congressional districts.

Reforming the outdated foreign assistance system is the focus of Bread for the World's 2009 Offering of Letters legislative campaign. The effort has rallied nearly 50 Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith bodies and agencies, who have issued a joint statement on U.S. foreign assistance reform.

"In the Abrahamic tradition, the willingness to fight poverty and other barriers to human dignity is one of the marks of a wise nation...Today, U.S. foreign aid is essential not only to meet humanitarian necessity and promote economic growth and progress, but also to build a world of stability and security for generations to come," they said in their statement.

The historic H.R. 2139 requires the president to develop and implement a comprehensive national strategy for global development, improve evaluation of development programs, and increase the transparency of U.S. foreign assistance to developing countries. Currently U.S. global development policies and programs are scattered across 12 departments, 25 agencies, and nearly 60 government offices.

"A more efficient foreign assistance system -- with better coordination, better accountability, and better clarity -- means that people will get help faster and more effectively," said Rev. Beckmann. "If we want to assure all God's children the dignity of daily bread, we have to work with our heads and not only with our hearts."

SOURCE Bread for the World
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