There was a whirlwind of activity on Capitol Hill in December, with many issues of interest to our community. Here's a summary:
Peace Corps Funding Holds in Budget Package: While Congress and the President battled over the federal budget, there was mostly good news on the Peace Corps funding front. The omnibus spending bill sent to the President includes $333.5 Million for Peace Corps. While an across-the-budget recission may reduce the final funding by approximately $2 Million - the figure represents the highest funding increase in at least four years.
Congressional Letters Supporting Foreign Affairs Funding: Nearly 60 Senators and 120 Representatives have signed onto congressional letters urging President Bush to support robust foreign affairs funding when he submits his Fiscal Year 2009 budget. The US Global Leadership Campaign has a running list of who signed the letter - consider contacting your lawmakers to say thank you or to express your disappointment.
Farm Bill: The growing call for reform of U.S. agriculture policies from social justice and other organizations required reform opponents to pull out all the stops to defeat a key amendment to reduce trade-distorting subsidies. While the amendment actually passed, an agreement that it secure enough votes to survive a Senate filibuster led to the withdrawl of the Dorgan-Grassley amendment. Read this press release from Oxfam America. A conference committee will begin the process of reconciling differences between the Senate and House versions of the Farm Bill.