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Voices from the Hill

U.S. officials have been speaking up about human rights issues recently. Listen in to hear what the dialogue has been about.

Compiled by Dahlia Rockowitz


"I think sometimes in the press and in the minds of many, our foreign aid is exaggerated. It really is a miniscule part of our overall budget and it’s not the reason why we have this growing debt in America. Foreign aid is important. If it’s done right, it [creates] allies that in the future can help us, not just in political struggles but can be our partners in economic trade… A world where people are prosperous and free to grow their economies and pursue their dreams and ambitions is a better world for all of us. —Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) responding, via video, to a suggestion that the U.S. shouldn’t give foreign aid while there is poverty at home, June 29, 2011


"Several years ago, when I was traveling with then First Lady Hillary Clinton, a government official was going on and on about how women in his country have no role in the country’s economy. Mrs. Clinton stopped him and said, ‘Sir, as far as the eye can see, (we were traveling in a van), women are bent over with children on their backs doing the farming, carrying wood, carrying water…if they all stopped but for a day, your country would shut down.’ ——Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, in remarks at the Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, Italy, June 27, 2011


"…The independence of South Sudan was achieved July 9 without major conflict and with the recognition of the Government of Sudan. All those, in the Congress, among the many public organizations and advocates, the government entities and individuals over two administrations, all those who worked for this over many years should take pride and joy in this achievement. —Ambassador Princeton Lyman, U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, Statement at Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Hearing, “Two New Sudans: A Roadmap Forward,” July 14, 2011


"We have to continue to stand up for the rights and the well-being of LGBT people, and sometimes it’s hard when you’re in the middle of a long campaign to see where you’re getting. But I’ve always believed that we would make progress because we were on the right side of equality and justice. […] This is one of the most urgent and important human rights struggles of all times. —Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, celebrating LGBT Pride Month at the State Department, June 27, 2011


"The challenges for the people of Haiti are daunting but they are not insurmountable. When the right leadership adopts the right policies, and with the continuing support of the international community, progress can be made...that moment could and should be now. —Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Hearing, June 23, 2011


"USAID believes that the area for greatest convergence of our interests is in ensuring what we have long held as a basic principle: that the right food should get to the right people at the right time, while doing no harm. —Nancy Lindborg, USAID, in remarks before the Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture, July 13, 2011

"We need to make it clearer to people as to why these programs are so important and why they save us money and why they save lives and why they’re in our national security interest. Because…there’s not a natural constituency out there …knocking on doors saying ‘please continue to vote for a robust food aid budget for international food aid programs.’ —Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture Hearing, July 13, 2011

"I think America, to be a leader in the world, to have influence, to help stabilize countries, and create opportunity for people so they don’t breed terrorists or create huge refugee flows and so forth, [must] make a very modest investment in foreign aid. It’s a force multiplier, and it’s something that, even in tough fiscal times, America needs to continue to do as part of our role as a global leader. —President Barack Obama in response to a tweet during Twitter Town Hall, July 6, 2011

Now it’s your turn to speak up!

Tell your representatives what you think about these issues.

White House Comment Line: 202.456.1111
Capitol Switchboard: 202.224.3121

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American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is an international development organization motivated by Judaism’s imperative to pursue justice. AJWS is dedicated to alleviating poverty, hunger and disease among the people of the developing world regardless of race, religion or nationality. Through grants to grassroots organizations, volunteer service, advocacy and education, AJWS fosters civil society, sustainable development and human rights for all people, while promoting the values and responsibilities of global citizenship within the Jewish community.

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