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Catholic aid group praises Biden’s proposed boost to foreign assistance

CRS foreign aid People wait outside a distribution point to receive aid rations in Oromia Region, Ethiopia, in February 2018/ Will Baxter/Catholic Relief Services

A Catholic aid agency is praising President Biden’s 2022 fiscal year budget request for its focus on fighting poverty.

“The administration’s proposal to increase poverty-focused international assistance in its FY22 budget request demonstrates a steadfast commitment to American leadership abroad,” stated Bill O’Keefe, executive vice president for mission, mobilization and advocacy at Catholic Relief Services (CRS), on Friday.

The White House released its discretionary funding request for fiscal year 2022 on Friday. The request is a summary of the administration’s full budget, which will be released later.

Included in the request is $1 billion in U.S. foreign assistance for fighting infectious diseases around the globe, as well as $2.5 billion for international climate programs.

O’Keefe said that the proposed funding “will be vital” to fighting global poverty, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“COVID-19 has plunged tens of millions of families further into poverty, threatening their ability to put food on the table,” O’Keefe stated. “The U.S. is a blessed nation. It’s our moral responsibility as Americans to protect the life and dignity of those most in need.”

Increased foreign assistance will help the United States counter the threats of climate change and future pandemics, O'Keefe said, adding that it will also boost the U.S. response to "the complex challenges plaguing Central America.”

In 2019, CRS criticized President Trump’s proposal to cut foreign aid by nearly 25%.

The 2022 federal budget process is also expected to feature a debate over taxpayer funding of abortions.

Biden’s budget request did not specifically mention abortion funding, but pro-life groups are warning that a proposed $340 million increase for the Title X family planning program would fund pro-abortion groups.

While the Trump administration set up safeguards against Title X funding of abortion clinics – forbidding grantees from referring for abortions or being co-located with abortion clinics – the Biden administration is currently in the process of rolling back those requirements.

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In addition, Biden’s budget request includes funding of the UN’s population fund (UNFPA). The Trump administration stopped funding the UNFPA in 2017 over its partnership with the Chinese government, claiming that the organization was complicit in China’s practice of forced abortions.

“Biden’s funding proposal further raises the stakes for inclusion of the Hyde family of longstanding pro-life policies,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, on Friday. 

The Hyde Amendment – federal policy that bars funding of elective abortions in appropriations – has been enacted in law since 1976 as a rider to budget bills. However, Biden in 2019 reversed his long-standing support for the policy, and has opposed it as president. Democratic leadership in Congress have also called for the repeal of the policy.

“Under his radical Cabinet appointees, funding increases will translate to a payday for abortion giants like Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International, and greater complicity in human rights abuses around the world,” Dannenfelser stated. “We strongly urge our congressional allies to reject any budget that omits these vital protections.”

Democratic leaders have also called for the repeal of other pro-life funding policies such as the Helms Amendment, which forbids federal funding of international abortions. President Biden has already allowed for federal funding of pro-abortion foreign NGOs by repealing the Mexico City Policy.

 

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