As either Chairman or Ranking Member of the Department of State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee for more than two decades, Senator Leahy is deeply involved in U.S. foreign policy and foreign aid programs.
Vermonters, like most Americans, recognize that events outside our borders can have direct and dramatic consequences for our health and safety. Isolationism is not an option in a globalized world in which geography no longer shields us from the effects of conflict abroad or protects us from a rapidly-spreading infectious disease.
Leahy believes that as the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world, the U.S. has wide ranging interests and responsibilities around the globe -- from promoting trade and investment to combating terrorism, reducing poverty, protecting the environment, supporting human rights and broadening understanding between all Americans and people of different cultures, religions, races and ethnicities.
Poverty, greed and ethnic and religious intolerance are among the greatest causes of instability and conflict. Resource scarcity in sub-Saharan Africa, discrimination and violence against religious minorities in Southeast Asia, and the ecological impact of deforestation in South America affect the lives not only of vulnerable populations half a world away, but Americans living across the globe, including here in the U.S.
More than 2 billion people earn less than $2 a day and live in appallingly destitute conditions. As the wealthiest nation, the U.S. has a moral responsibility, and a compelling national interest, to help them improve their lives, yet we spend only one percent of our Federal budget on foreign aid -- less than most other industrialized nations on a per capita basis.
Some of the foreign policy/foreign aid initiatives Leahy is most proud of are the Leahy War Victims Fund, which provides medical, vocational and related assistance to civilian victims of war; his work to ban landmines, including the first law in any country to ban the export of these indiscriminate weapons; the "Leahy Law," which prohibits U.S. aid to foreign military and police forces that violate human rights, and encourages foreign governments to hold those who violate human rights accountable; the infectious disease and neglected diseases initiatives that target malaria, elephantiasis and other diseases that afflict hundreds of millions of people in tropical countries; and the Amazon Basin Conservation Strategy, a regional initiative to promote conservation of the Amazon rainforest.
Senator Leahy continues to use his position on the Appropriations Committee to ensure that funding for global health initiatives, such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, is protected. Because of his consistent advocacy, and despite a constrained fiscal environment, U.S. funding to combat AIDS has been funded at the highest levels ever in recent years.
This section of the website provides information about important foreign policy issues and the work Leahy is doing to address them. Thank you for your interest and please share with the Senator any comments or questions.