Posted by: APO | 16 April 2008

ONE Applauds House for Passing the Jubilee Act

April 16, 2008                         

ONE Applauds House for Passing the Jubilee Act


Washington D.C. — Today, the House of Representatives voted in favor of relieving impoverished countries from debt incurred by previous, often corrupt, regimes by passing the Jubilee Act (H.R. 2634) with a convincing 285-132 vote.  The bill, introduced in the House by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) in June 2007, would push for an international agreement to write off United States’ loans to qualified countries and urge the U.S. to work with other rich nations to do the same. The money poor countries would have had to pay to debt would be directed to infrastructure development, education and health care, among other improvements.


“Congratulations all around for the hard and fruitful work we saw today on Capitol Hill,” said ONE President and CEO David Lane. “Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Congressman Spencer Bachus have been tireless champions for debt relief over many years. This bill is the next important step in that success story. We call on the Senate to take quick, favorable action.”


The Jubilee Act calls on the U.S. Treasury Department to negotiate at the International Monetary Fund and other relevant international institutions for debt cancellation for some of the world’s poorest countries. In addition, this legislation would encourage the removal of certain conditions that can hinder growth and poverty reduction. Participating countries must also follow guidelines that encourage transparency and accountability.


“We know that debt relief works. In 2000, Tanzania’s debt was cancelled. The government took the money that would have gone towards paying off the loan and put 1.5 million children in school,” said Lane.  “That’s more than substantial change.  That’s phenomenal.  Today, the House did their part to make it possible for millions more children to attend school. ONE is asking the Senate to do the same.”


Since the House first considered the bill, ONE members around the country sent more than 45,000 letters and made 4,000+ calls in support of the Jubilee Act.  ONE members and other supporters packed the halls on Capitol Hill to deliver letters and express their concern about the effects of long-standing debt. 


“This bill is an essential step towards expanding the promise of debt cancellation to more countries that need it. Too many impoverished nations are trapped in a vicious cycle where their scarce resources are sucked up in enormous debt payments. This legislation not only frees up badly needed funds but it also sets policies for more responsible lending in the future,” said Neil Watkins, National Coordinator of Jubilee USA Network.


Jubilee USA has led the efforts among organizations like the ONE Campaign to rally lawmakers and American citizens alike to support wide-ranging, responsible debt relief. 


The bill’s counterpart in the Senate (S. 2166) was introduced by Senators Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Richard Lugar of Indiana and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut in October 2007.  They joined the three original cosponsors, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, Senator John Sununu of New Hampshire and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. 


The ONE Campaign is a global advocacy organization uniting millions of people to press government leaders to fight extreme poverty and preventable disease around the world.


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