Washington, DC – Foreign Policy for America applauds the passage of today’s bipartisan COVID-19 relief bill by the House and Senate. However the bill falls far short of what’s needed in the face of this global pandemic and recession. We urge that future relief bills provide additional emergency funding for international efforts to respond to COVID-19.
As we’ve clearly learned by now, the coronavirus does not respect borders: if we don’t stop the pandemic everywhere, it will find its way back to us. If we walk away from the rest of the world at a time that urgently requires international action, the risks are clear – the world may walk away from us. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the fate of the global community, which is interwoven with our economy. The consequences of disruptions to trade are far-reaching and impact the lives of all Americans.
These critical funds would not only bring life-saving assistance to vulnerable communities, but would also benefit the United States by bolstering the economies of our important trade partners.
While we appreciate the $4 billion commitment to GAVI, the international vaccine alliance, that is not enough. Fighting this epidemic will require renewed bipartisan leadership and a recommitment to principled U.S. engagement in the world. Trump’s reckless moves to cut funding for diplomacy and development have been consistently rebuffed by bipartisan Congress majorities. We are disappointed that in this important bill Congress failed to uphold its commitment to international engagement.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Congress has recognized the importance of foreign assistance as means to counter the global spread of the disease. Congress allocated an additional $1.12 billion in funding for the International Affairs Budget in its third coronavirus supplement bill, building on the initial $1.25 billion for the State Department and USAID included in the first COVID-19 emergency funding bill. Foreign Policy for America had hoped this bill would also reflect the necessity of an international COVID-19 response.
U.S. foreign assistance this year has already been used to help counter the spread of the virus among vulnerable populations, and to provide emergency disaster response to heavily impacted areas. Not only does foreign assistance save lives, but a stable and prosperous world carries benefits for all Americans.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres recently spoke about the magnitude of the crisis globally. “Nearly a year into the pandemic, we face a human tragedy, and a public health, humanitarian and development emergency. For the first time since 1945, the entire world is confronted by a common threat, regardless of nationality, ethnicity or faith. … The social and economic impact of the pandemic is enormous and growing.”