Ignoring Powell & Congress, White House Moves to Block UNFPA Funds

Jan 11, 2002
Press Release
WASHINGTON: In reaction to reports that President Bush has moved to block the allocation of Congressionally approved funds for the UNFPA, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY) condemned the action as against the will of Congress, against the written support of Secretary Powell, and against the crucial needs of millions of women and families around the world.

"This is just absolutely wrong," said Maloney, "to ignore a hard fought bipartisan agreement and attempt to unilaterally block funds that are crucial to saving the lives of women and families around the world. This shows great disrespect to the majority and minority leadership in the House and Senate and certainly disrespect to Secretary Powell who supported increased funding for UNFPA."

Maloney continued, "To block these funds is a slap in the face to women and to the majority of Republicans and Democrats who supported this bill. If these reports are accurate, the President will have taken an action that ignores the intent of Congress and blocks funds that would help reduce unintended pregnancies, prevent abortions, stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, and help countries develop more stable economies. I urge the President to reconsider this terribly harmful decision that sets an awful precedent for our legislative process and hurts millions of women and families around the world. And we know how critical the UNFPA is by the fact that the State Department, just two months ago, gave the organization $600,000 in supplemental funds to help the women of Afghanistan."

BACKGROUND: The Bush administration, for the fiscal year 2002 budget, requested a $25 million funding level for UNFPA. In Spring of 2001, Secretary Powell submitted written testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that said, "We recognize that UNFPA does invaluable work through its programs in maternal and child health care, voluntary family planning, screening for reproductive tract cancers, breast-feeding promotion, and HIV/AIDS prevention. Its multilateral activities also can complement our important bilateral population assistance efforts. We look forward to working with you and your colleagues to secure the funding necessary for UNFPA to continue these activities. We will also work closely with the Congress on other areas of concern, including oversight of UNFPA's program in China."

On June 5, 2001, Rep. Maloney initiated a letter with bipartisan support, including Republican Chairman Kolbe (AZ) of the House Subcommittee on Foreign Operations and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (NY), urging them to support the President's budget request for UNFPA. On December 19, 2001 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $34 million appropriation for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a $12.5 million increase from last year. The funds were approved by the full House and Senate as part of the fiscal year 2002 Foreign Operations Appropriation.

The increase in funds would help the UNFPA provide effective modern contraception for nearly 1.6 million women in low-income countries, prevent 780,000 unintended pregnancies, prevent 365,000 unwanted births, help women avoid over 312,000 abortions, prevent more than 500,000 maternal deaths, reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS infection in dozens of high-risk countries, and help poor countries develop stable economies.