Congressman Blumenauer served on the House International Relations Committee from the 107th through the 109th Congresses, and the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade in the 110th Congress. He believes that Americans, blessed to live in the richest and most powerful country on earth, have a responsibility to create a better, safer world for all of its inhabitants. Leading the way on challenges as diverse as global health, peace, and the environment is the right thing to do and promotes national security and economic well-being at home.
The fight to end global poverty is one the most important moral challenges of our times and Congressman Blumenauer is a champion in this effort. He regularlyleads the fight for aid, trade, and debt relief policies that support poor people struggling to lift their communities out of poverty. Helping people improve their standard of living also helps prevent conflict and creates new markets for American exports.
Congressman Blumenauer supports significantly increasing the amount of money we invest in ending poverty around the world, which is currently less than 1% of the federal budget. As a member of the House Committee on Budget, he leads efforts to ensure sufficient funding for international affairs programs in the annual budget resolution. He is also widely considered the leader in Congress for helping to increase access to safe drinking water and sanitation for poor people, the lack of which is an ongoing threat to global security and the leading cause of preventable death in the world.
In 2005, Blumenauer authored the bipartisan “Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act,” which established clean water as a major foreign assistance priority. He leads an annual effort to fund these critical programs and in 2010, Water for the Poor programs received a $315 million investment that will provide over 2 million people with first-time access to clean water and sanitation.
Even with this commitment, nearly 900 million people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water and 2 out of 5 people on the planet lack basic sanitation services. In 2009, Congressman Blumenauer developed H.R. 2030, the “Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act” (PDF), to redouble U.S. efforts to help provide an additional 100 million of the world’s poorest with first-time access to safe and sustainable drinking water and sanitation by 2015. To achieve this, the Act:
- Establishes an Office of Water within USAID to implement country-specific water strategies,
- Creates a Special Coordinator for International Water within the State Department to coordinate the diplomatic policy of the US with respect to global freshwater issues,
- Establishes programs in countries of greatest need that invest in local capacity, education, and coordination with US efforts,
- Emphasizes cross-border and cross-discipline collaboration and the utilization of low-cost technologies, such as hand washing stations and latrines.
Congressman Blumenauer continues to work for enactment of this legislation and for the elimination of the dire poverty and unrest that ensnares billions worldwide.
Congressman Blumenauer believes that the United States must act decisively to address conflict and terrorism throughout the world. The extremists behind the 9/11 attacks, and the attacks on our allies in Madrid, London and elsewhere, continue to try to harm civilians and must be confronted and defeated. In addition to swift action, we must address the political and economic conditions that extremists exploit to gain sympathy and recruit new followers.
These destabilizing conditions persist when the United States fails to communicate with both friend and foe and does not establish a consistent and defensible position when dealing with other nations. That is why we must continue the difficult task of engaging directly and honestly with Iran and other countries through direct bilateral talks and through the United Nations, despite these countries' often destructive roles. A lack of serious economic, diplomatic, and trade relationships actually strengthens those who seek isolation. For the US, this means fewer levers of influence and more blind spots than we can afford.
Congressman Blumenauer also believes that the United States shouldn’t be funding stability at the expense of democracy. He has long been a champion in the House to reduce military aid to repressive regimes and invest more in civil society, thereby improving the lives of people around the world, not bolstering repressive regimes. Congressman Blumenauer has made it clear that we ought to support democratic institutions in words and actions, and recently applauded the brave men and women of Egypt, and their first steps toward peaceful and democratic reforms.
An ongoing threat to peace and American interests abroad is the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Today, threats derived from this conflict have rippled out to Arab states, Central Asia, and beyond. Blumenauer strongly supports a two-state solution of a secure Israel and an independent Palestinian state, living side by side. He also urges strong U.S. leadership, which is needed to bring these two sides together. Congressman Blumenauer has made it clear that progress must be mutual and opposes any unilateral actions taken by both sides which have hindered the peace process.
Blumenauer was also a staunch and early opponent of the Iraq War and does not support the military escalation in Afghanistan. To learn more about Congressman Blumenauer’s position on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, Changing the Course in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Global Water Issues
One out of every 10 people lack access to safe drinking water. Nearly 2.5 billion people don’t have access to a toilet. Dirty water and a lack of access to sanitation and proper hygiene kill 2 million people around the world annually, 90 percent of whom are children under the age of 5. That’s more lives lost due to dirty water than from AIDS, TB and malaria combined.
Currently 2.8 billion people, more than 40 percent of the world’s population, live in areas of physical and economic water scarcity. With the global population expected to grow, and the impacts of climate change projected to increase in severity, water scarcity is one of our greatest humanitarian and security challenges in the coming years and decades ahead.
That is why Congressman Blumenauer has been the leading champion to make America a global leader in the fight against water scarcity and sustainability. In 2005, he authored, and saw signed into law, the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act, which made increasing access to clean water and sanitation a U.S. foreign policy objective for the first time in our history. Most recently, he authored the Paul Simon Water for the World Act, which built on nearly a decade of progress to prevent needless loss of life stemming from dirty water. Not only does the legislation further elevate issues relating to water within our development efforts by ensuring their impacts are more effective and sustainable, it also ensures our diplomatic outlook focuses keenly on water-related issues. With 261 international river basins that cross at least one international border, avoiding water-related conflict will take greater U.S. leadership.