Summary of 2002 Successes
Ending Poverty Around the World
In 2002, RESULTS volunteers met face-to-face with 41 representatives and 7 senators to urge action on a range of issues to address poverty worldwide. Global and Domestic RESULTS volunteers attended the annual International Conference in Washington, DC, for intensive education, training and lobbying, and met with over 300 congressional staff, as well as members of Congress. Global volunteers generated 85 newspaper editorials, over 13 feature articles, over 15 op-ed pieces, and over 90 letters to the editor on these issues, and sent hundreds of letters to members of Congress each month. Global volunteers attended 12 national conference calls for training and education, with an average attendance of 171 volunteers each month.
Global Health: Tuberculosis and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria
What We Did: TB, AIDS and malaria are diseases that disproportionately impact poor people, greatly worsening poverty and undermining the stability of families, communities and nations. RESULTS volunteers pursued several legislative avenues to expand funding for international tuberculosis programs and for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM); and to ensure that U.S. global health funds are spent more effectively to expand the number of people receiving prevention and treatment for these diseases.
Our global health media work helped raise public awareness of and support for international TB control programs and the important new GFATM. To support our strong work generating editorials and letters to the editor in local newspapers, RESULTS worked with high-level experts and allies. For World TB Day, March 24, several RESULTS groups around the U.S. held local press conferences and RESULTS hosted a conference call for journalists with TB champions and RESULTS allies Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative Sherrod Brown (D-OH), TB expert Dr. Lee Reichman, and a World Health Organization expert on health in Afghanistan. In advance of World AIDS Day, December 1, we hosted a conference call for journalists with the GFATM’s Executive Director that reached the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and 8 other major national and regional papers in the U.S. and Canada.
Legislative Outcomes: RESULTS volunteers supported House and Senate legislation, the Stop TB Now Act, which called for $200 million in U.S. funds for international TB control in 2003 and included policy language to help ensure effective use of these funds. Companion legislation addressed TB domestically. In the House, the Stop TB Now Act gathered an impressive 101 cosponsors. A second TB bill, the International TB Control Act of 2002, introduced later in the Senate by key allies, further fleshed out language on how funds can best be spent. We used this legislation and the Stop TB Now Act to influence the annual foreign aid spending levels, asking our members of Congress to speak or write to key leaders regarding the foreign aid spending bills. We also generated dozens of communications to show widespread support for TB efforts. This legislation also helped influence international health policy legislation on AIDS, TB and malaria, which included strong funding targets for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM) and international TB programs, as well as language to ensure TB monies would be better spent.
Other Outcomes: This proved to be a challenging year for funding. In February, the president’s budget proposed major cuts to TB and child survival, as well as drastically reduced funding for the GFATM. With a struggling economy, and the administration prioritizing both a war on terror and possible military action against Iraq, we were pleased that the House and Senate Appropriations Committee not only resisted any cuts to TB programs, but actually provided a $1 million increase in international TB control funding, bringing the House-approved level to $76 million — up from just $1 million in 1997. Funding for the GFATM in 2003 was finally set at $350 million. Although this is a relatively modest amount compared to the $1.2 billion RESULTS and other advocates sought, we are continuing to urge support for a fair U.S. share of the resources the GFATM needs to meet its potential in 2004. Additionally, our work has helped build much stronger awareness of and support for the GFATM on Capitol Hill.
Access to Credit for the Very Poor
What We Did: 2002 presented an opportunity for Congress to renew microenterprise legislation and help ensure more U.S. funds reach very poor people. Like other development programs, microenterprise — in which tiny loans and other key services are provided to poor people to start or expand self-employment ventures, so that they can earn more income and improve their family’s health, housing and education — can fail to reach very poor people without a concerted effort. Congress has required since 2000 that half of U.S. funds be targeted to very poor people. However, this was not happening as effectively as it should, and progress could not be monitored. In the spring of 2002, we worked closely with members of Congress to introduce legislation that would require our foreign aid agency, USAID, to develop and start using important new poverty measurement tools that could better ensure that this would happen.
Outcomes: Microenterprise legislation quickly passed unanimously in the House, and then a modified version passed in the full Senate after gaining the support of our foreign aid agency, USAID. During the final hours of the 107th Congress, issues unrelated to the bill kept it from final passage, but the process began anew in the 108th Congress with the introduction of a new House bill, H.R.192, on the very first day of the 2003 legislative session! This microenterprise legislation finally passed in June of 2003, but just as important, USAID has already begun work to support and implement the legislation. This represents a critical new direction for the microenterprise community with regards to poverty-focused programs. At the Microcredit Summit +5 meeting in New York City, November 10–13, 2002, microenterprise practitioners from around the world spoke with enthusiasm of this legislation, as if it had already been enacted.
Child Survival and Health Funding
We asked our members of Congress to weigh in with key congressional decision makers in support of more funding for Child Survival, basic education, UNICEF, and associated accounts in 2003 as well. Congress expanded basic education funding to an unprecedented level and restored and even expand the infectious disease and child survival funding that President Bush proposed to cut. This may not have happened without our active support.
Ending Poverty in the U.S.
In 2002, RESULTS Domestic volunteers met face-to-face with 14 senators and 36 representatives to discuss issues relating to hunger and poverty in the United States. In addition, 77 volunteers attended the RESULTS Educational Fund International Conference in Washington, DC for intensive education, training and lobbying. RESULTS Domestic groups also organized at least 69 outreach meetings and through these added 92 new partners to their groups. Volunteers participated in 12 national conference calls for training and education. These calls had an average attendance of 109 people from around the country. Each month our Domestic volunteers sent hundreds of letters to their members of Congress.
Welfare Reauthorization and Childcare
What We Did: RESULTS volunteers raised awareness of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program in anticipation of action by Congress to reauthorize the welfare law by October 1, 2002. RESULTS and others noted that dramatic reduction in welfare caseloads since 1996 had not been accompanied by a corresponding reduction in poverty and called on Congress to make poverty reduction a central goal of the TANF program. We urged that mandatory funding for childcare, included in the TANF reauthorization bill, be increased by $11 billion over five years.
On May 15, as the House of Representatives began floor debate on TANF reauthorization legislation, RESULTS and the Children’s Defense Fund cosponsored a media conference call featuring Representative Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources; Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Member of the Senate Finance and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committees; a low-income mother struggling to secure child care for her family; and Marian Wright Edelman. Eighteen journalists joined this important call and the outcome was that during the International Conference, RESULTS volunteers delivered packets of well over 44 media pieces calling on Congress to move families out of poverty with progressive TANF legislation.
In August and early September, RESULTS sponsored two more conference calls for editorial writers and other journalists to highlight the importance of passing TANF legislation that provided families with the tools and services they need to move off of welfare and out of poverty permanently. In particular, the calls focused on the key issues within the welfare debate — affecting recipients and their families, including child care, work hours, and access to education and training.
Speakers on the calls included Senator Bingaman; Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), chairman of the Children and Families subcommittee of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; Jim Wallis, convener and president of Call to Renewal; Vanessa Brown, former welfare recipient; Wendell Primus, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; and Francis Fox Piven of the City University of New York. Media participating on these calls included the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Buffalo News, Chicago Tribune, Contra Costa Times, Dallas Morning News, Gannett News Service, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Newsday, Oregonian, Portfolio Magazine, Syracuse Post Standard, Topeka Capital Journal, and the Washington Post. Following up on this call, a RESULTS volunteer in Kansas generated a front-page piece in the Topeka Capital Journal.
As the November elections approached, volunteers used their media skills to ensure that welfare issues were included in election debates. They wrote letters to the editor and contacted editorial writers of their local newspapers. In December, RESULTS volunteers continued their media work, again highlighting the unmet child care needs of low income families.
As a whole, RESULTS domestic groups generated over 150 media pieces, mostly focused on TANF reauthorization. These included 32 editorials, 34 articles and opinion pieces, and 87 letters to the editor.
Legislative Outcomes: The House passed a bill in May that conformed to the White House plan requiring TANF recipients to work longer hours. This bill had only a token increase in childcare funding. The Senate Finance Committee approved a bill that was less severe, but it was not brought to the Senate floor for a vote. However, there are clear indications that RESULTS’ message of poverty reduction has resonated in Congress. The Senate Finance Committee bill would have helped families move out of poverty by expanding recipients’ access to education and training, addressing multiple barriers, such as substance abuse, and increasing child care funding by $5.5 billion. The 107th Congress adjourned without completing work on TANF legislation, passing a temporary extension of the 1996 welfare law to 2003, with final congressional action on TANF expected in the fall of 2003. RESULTS and other advocates played a major role in defeating harmful TANF legislation and engaging Congress, the media and the larger public of the policies necessary to move families out of poverty, not just off of welfare.
Asset Development to End Poverty
What We Did: In 2002, RESULTS lobbied for a bill called the Savings for Working Families Act to increase low-income families’ access to Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). The act was introduced by Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT). IDAs are matched savings accounts intended to assist and encourage a low-income family to accumulate financial assets. When a saver deposits money into their IDA, a sponsoring organization deposits a matching amount. The proceeds may only be withdrawn for long-term purposes such as higher education, purchase of a first home, or starting a small business. The SWFA provided for tax credits to financial institutions for putting in the matching money.
Many congressional offices were unfamiliar with IDAs at the start of our work on this issue, and RESULTS volunteers met with hundreds of congressional staff to educate them about the opportunity to expand IDAs. We played a key role in making sure that Senate offices, in particular, were familiar with IDAs and that they were following the issue closely.
Legislative Outcomes: SWFA was folded into the Senate version of a bill on charitable giving known as the CARE bill, which was passed by the Senate Finance Committee in late June. SWFA provisions in the Senate CARE bill would have supported up to 300,000 new IDAs. It also provided measures to ensure that these accounts were distributed across the country and put in place reporting requirements for financial institutions to guarantee proper management and use of IDA accounts. Unfortunately, the Senate CARE bill stalled and the 107th Congress adjourned without acting on it. The Senate passed the CARE Act (S.476) on April 9, 2003, but the House companion bill, the Charitable Giving Act (H.R.7), does not include a broad expansion of IDAs. H.R.7 will be considered by the House Ways and Means committee in early September 2003, with floor action coming shortly thereafter. Congressional leaders will then negotiate a compromise bill between S.476 and H.R.7. RESULTS volunteers will continue our work to ensure that IDAs are expanded in 2003.