Torres, Chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee Sires Lead 101 Members of Congress to Oppose Central America Aid Cuts

May 6, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Representatives Norma J. Torres (D-CA) and Albio Sires (D-NJ), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, led a group of 101 Members of Congress in a letter urging U.S. Department of State Secretary Mike Pompeo to immediately reverse the department’s decision to suspend development and humanitarian assistance for Central America’s “Northern Triangle” countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. On Friday, March 29, 2019, the State Department confirmed the suspension of approximately $450 million of funds that Congress had already appropriated for Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. President Trump had been threatening to cut aid to these countries for several months, but this is the first time that the State Department has stated that it will actually carry out the threats. While the State Department has still not provided Congress with a specific plan for reallocating the funds, it appears that all Fiscal Year 2018, and possibly some Fiscal Year 2017 funds, will be suspended. The suspended funds include development programs that are provided directly to impacted communities.

 

“Millions of dollars in aid provided to communities through non-governmental organizations is now in jeopardy. Multiple programs that are demonstrating results—reducing violence at the local level, helping young people find jobs, and reducing the rates of malnutrition in rural areas—will be forced to close their doors. Non-governmental organizations and U.S. governmental entities who have made commitments to local partners will be forced to renege on those commitments,” the federal lawmakers wrote.  

 

The federal lawmakers continued, As a result, a significant investment by American taxpayers will go to waste. Progress made on reducing violence and poverty will be reversed, more children and families from the Northern Triangle will be forced to flee their communities, and the situation at our border will get worse, not better. Additionally, United States influence in Central America will decline, and our global competitors, especially China, will reap the benefits.”

 

In addition to Torres and Sires, the letter was also signed by Representatives James P. McGovern (D-MA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Andy Levin (D-MI), Jackie Speier (D-CA), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), David Trone (D-MD), David E. Price (D-NC), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Deb Haaland (D-NM), Jim Costa (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Joaquín Castro (D-TX), Dina Titus (D-NV), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (D-IL), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL), Donna Shalala (D-FL), Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (D-VA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Alma S. Adams (D-NC), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Filemon Vela (D-TX), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), TJ Cox (D-CA), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), John Lewis (D-GA), Katie Hill (D-CA), Robin Kelly (D-IL), Sylvia Garcia (D-TX), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Peter Welch (D-VT), Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Lou Correa (D-CA), John A. Yarmuth (D-KY), Dianna DeGette (D-CO), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Grace Meng (D-NY), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Colin Allred (D-TX), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Susan A. Davis (D-CA), Alan S. Lowenthal (D-CA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), John Garamendi (D-CA), Gil Cisneros (D-CA), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), William R. Keating (D-MA), Hank Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Xochitil Torres Small (D-NM), Peter J. Visclosky (D-IN), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Thomas R. Suozzi (D-NY), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Karen Bass (D-CA).

 

The full text of the letter is below:

 

Dear Secretary Pompeo,

 

We write to express our strong opposition to the Department of State’s decision to suspend development and humanitarian assistance for Central America’s “Northern Triangle” countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The suspension of this aid will not only undermine longstanding bipartisan policy goals in Central America, but also represents a willful disregard for congressional intent. We call on you to immediately reverse this policy decision.

 

Beginning in 2015, in response to the growing number of Central American children and families arriving at our Southern Border, Congress has provided, on a bipartisan basis, a substantial increase in assistance to these countries. This assistance, which was largely delivered through non-governmental organizations, was not a blank check: it came with a robust set of conditions to ensure that the region’s governments did their part to address the root causes of migration; 75 percent of Fiscal Year 2017 and 2018 assistance for the central governments is subject to these conditions.

 

Millions of dollars in aid provided to communities through non-governmental organizations is now in jeopardy. Multiple programs that are demonstrating results—reducing violence at the local level, helping young people find jobs, and reducing the rates of malnutrition in rural areas—will be forced to close their doors. Non-governmental organizations and U.S. governmental entities who have made commitments to local partners will be forced to renege on those commitments.

 

As a result, a significant investment by American taxpayers will go to waste. Progress made on reducing violence and poverty will be reversed, more children and families from the Northern Triangle will be forced to flee their communities, and the situation at our border will get worse, not better. Additionally, United States influence in Central America will decline, and our global competitors, especially China, will reap the benefits.

 

Again, we strongly urge you to change course, and we welcome a discussion about how we can work together to effectively address the root causes of migration and avoid creating a true crisis at our southern border.

 

Sincerely,

 

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