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Testimony submitted by Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-MN) for the 2012 National Democratic Committee Platform Committee

July 30, 2012


Testimony submitted by Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-MN) for the 2012 National Democratic Committee Platform Committee

Good afternoon. Thank you for the opportunity to join you and for all of your work shaping our party’s 2012 platform. As a member of Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, I would like to welcome my fellow Democrats to our great state.

This is the land of Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, and Paul Wellstone – three great Americans who provided our country with moral clarity and courageous leadership. Their legacies have left a lasting mark on civil rights, human rights, and social justice – here at home and around the world.

Today, it is my honor to be here representing the ONE Campaign and its 1.7 million members in the United States. The ONE Campaign is a global advocacy movement dedicated to fighting extreme poverty and promoting development, particularly in Africa.

America’s role in the world as a force for good in promoting human dignity as we struggle against extreme poverty, disease, and hunger has the support of so many Americans because of the ONE Campaign.

The ONE Campaign is an organization that has succeeded in motivating policy makers, citizens, and millions around the world to work to transform poverty into opportunity, hope, and lasting change for the world’s poor.

Our state has a strong connection with the ONE Campaign:

ï‚· In 2008, Mayor R.T. Rybak declared Minneapolis a ONE City.

ï‚· That same year, our governor declared the State of Minnesota a ONE State.

ï‚· I represent nearly 4,500 ONE members in my congressional district alone.

Think about this: for less than 1 percent of the federal budget, the American people support life-changing work around the world in global health, agriculture, education, debt relief, economic development, and many other areas. For less than 1 percent of the federal budget, millions of lives are saved and improved every year. This investment helps to keep our nation safe. It helps to grow our economy. Even in difficult economic times, we must continue supporting global development investments that are smart, innovative, and effective.

America’s national security rests on a three legged stool. The legs are defense, diplomacy, and development. Without development, the stool collapses.

Our country’s investments in development are making the world safer by stabilizing continents and transforming entire societies. Through the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI), the American people prevented 5.5 million child deaths, and saved millions more from blindness and other debilitating conditions. The American people helped to provide 290 million mosquito nets to malaria-stricken countries, and helped educate 46 million children.

And, in the last decade, we helped change the course of a disease that threatened global stability. In 2002, only 300,000 people in developing countries were receiving AIDS treatment. Our country responded with an unprecedented leadership commitment to confront HIV/AIDS. As a result of actions by the American people, 8 million people in the developing world now have access to AIDS treatment.

Looking ahead, the goal of an AIDS-free generation in our lifetimes is now possible. A world without AIDS is within our grasp. This incredible success is the best answer to anyone who doubts the value of effective foreign assistance.

In another area of global leadership, the U.S. is taking the lead on bringing transparency to the global extractives industry. The Cardin-Lugar provision in the Dodd-Frank Act requires all companies listed on the U.S. stock exchange to disclose their payments for the extraction of oil, gas and minerals on a country-by-country basis to the Securities and Exchange Commission. This law will increase our energy security, while helping to fight corruption and promote good governance in other countries. More transparency means low-income countries will see billions of dollars in additional revenue to fund their own development priorities.

Food security is another area that demands increased focus and resources. The United Nations estimates the world’s population will reach 9 billion by 2050. Right now, more than 1 billion people are surviving on $1.25 a day or less – that’s extreme, painful poverty. The rising food prices have a billion people living in desperation on the edge of survival.

Earlier this year, in Yemen and the Horn of Africa, 13 million people were in need of food assistance and the famine killed 30,000 children. In that crisis and many others,the U.S. responds with emergency assistance, but a crisis response is not enough.

President Obama’s pioneering Feed the Future initiative is a comprehensive response to the global food crisis. This multi-agency effort is working with developing countries to build agricultural systems that grow more food, grow local economies, and feed more hungry people. This effort must be sustained because food security is national security. In countries where food is scare or food prices rise rapidly, political instability that threatens U.S. interests soon follows. Feed the Future deserves our support over the long-term because agricultural systems are not built in one, two or three fiscal years.

There are few quick victories in global development. Most of the fights worth fighting are long and hard. That is why milestones are so important. President Obama established a series of goals for 2015 that should keep us focused and accountable. He has committed to: ensuring no child is born with HIV; saving 4 million children’s lives through vaccinations; and lifting 50 million people out of extreme poverty and into food security.

The ONE Campaign and its members applaud the President for having the courage to make these life saving commitments. And, I stand with my President and my Party to achieve these ambitious but achievable goals. In addition to fighting poverty and preventing threats, global development is also about realizing opportunity.

Six out of ten of the fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa. The continent is an emerging player in the global economy. America’s economic relationships in Africa need to grow as well. Falling poverty and increasing economic opportunity can produce more trade and investment between our nations.

For all these reasons, the Democratic Party should proudly stand with President Obama to ensure that America upholds its legacy of global leadership, and fulfills its promise to create a healthier, more prosperous, and safer world.

To that end, I am pleased to recommend the following paragraph for inclusion in the Democratic Party’s 2012 Convention Platform:

As Democrats, we recognize the moral, economic and strategic imperatives to fighting extreme poverty and preventable disease around the world. We encourage the President to continue saving and improving millions of lives through smart, effective aid programs focused on agriculture, education, government transparency and accountability, childhood vaccinations, and treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. American foreign assistance is vital to US foreign policy objectives by helping to create stable, prosperous, and democratic allies.

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak on behalf of the ONE Campaign.

Congresswoman Betty McCollum serves on the House Appropriations and Budget Committees.