Pandemics have no borders.

The Borgen Project’s top priority is to ensure a global response to the COVID-19 crisis. Slowing the spread of COVID-19 is crucial to combating extreme global poverty as it directly affects food security, WASH services and infectious diseases such as Tuberculosis. Now, more than ever, it is time to put pressure on Congress to recommit to U.S. leadership in global health security in order to defeat COVID-19 and prevent future pandemics.

Borgen Project

How to use this page: Here, you’ll find our legislative priorities for the 117th Congress (2021-2022). The first link under each issue contains a downloadable document that gives an overview of each bill. The other links will provide additional data, analysis and instructions on how to email Congress. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email [email protected]


Top Legislative Priorities

Coronavirus Response

The Problem: The latest relief package that passed in March 2021, which included $11 billion for foreign assistance funding, was a critical step in the global response to COVID-19. However, as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on global poverty reduction efforts, major funding gaps remain in the fight to combat COVID-19 and its socio-economic consequences. For example, experts reported that due to the virus’s impact on the global food system, 2020 hunger levels reached the highest they have been in five years. The outlook for 2021 is grim as well.

The Solution: An investment in global health security is an investment in U.S. national security. That is why Congress must allocate funding to international assistance to fight COVID-19. This funding is essential to U.S. leadership in combating the pandemic globally and to protecting the health, security and economic interests of all Americans.

What to say when calling Congress: “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I would like you to support further lifesaving aid in subsequent COVID-19 relief bills and in FY23 appropriations to scale up COVID-19 vaccine delivery and distribution globally.

International Affairs Budget

The Problem: After recent years of proposed cuts, the approval of $64.89 billion in funding for FY22 marks another year of Congress’s support towards America’s development and diplomacy programs. However, more work remains to address gaps in global funding, especially as the world has changed drastically due to the negative secondary consequences of COVID-19. For example, 265 million people globally are at risk of starvation due to the secondary socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19.

What to say when calling Congress: “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I would like you to protect the International Affairs Budget.”


Global Health Legislation

MINDS Act

The Problem: According to the 2016 Global Burden Disease Study, 1 billion people suffered from mental health conditions or substance use disorders worldwide, and 75% of people living in low-and middle-income countries with mental health conditions did not receive any mental health treatment whatsoever. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the risk factors for mental health conditions globally, especially affecting children, as pandemic-related school closures have increased exposure to higher risks of trauma such as abuse, neglect and food insecurity.

The Solution:  Investments in mental health programs, including those specifically focused on the wellbeing of children, can help break the cycle of poverty abroad. The Mental Health in International Development and Humanitarian Settings (MINDS) Act is the first bill to address mental health and psychosocial support in U.S. global development assistance.

What to say when calling Congress: “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I would like you to support the MINDS Act.”

Global Health Security Act

The Problem: As more than 500,000 Americans and two and a half million people across the world have died from COVID-19, the U.S. needs to take the lead and invest in global responses to prevent future pandemics. Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA-11) stated, “diseases do not respect borders, and global health crises have immense security, economic and humanitarian consequences”. Rep. Connolly also explained that many nations are “underprepared to manage or control outbreaks”.

The Solution: The bipartisan Global Health Security Act is crucial to combating COVID-19. Overall, the bill will increase the U.S. government’s efforts to support epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevent threats of infectious disease outbreaks.

What to say when calling Congress: “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I would like you to support the Global Health Security Act.”

Global Malnutrition Prevention and Treatment Act

The Issue: Globally, 690 million people are undernourished including women and children. More specifically, women and expectant mothers’ nutrition is unacceptably low in the most vulnerable countries due to various factors, such as limitations to food access and gender inequality. All the while, 1 in 5 children suffers from malnutrition.

The Solution: In order to create lasting global change, it is essential to invest not only in education, health and economic empowerment, but to curb world hunger and malnutrition, especially for women and children. Improving women’s nutrition is imperative to ending malnutrition in all its forms. Providing these services and programs allows children the opportunity to contribute to their communities and become productive members of society in the future. Furthermore, for every $1 invested in global nutrition, there is an estimated $35 in economic return.

What to say when calling Congress: “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I would like you to support the Global Malnutrition Prevention and Treatment Act.”

End Tuberculosis Now Act

The Problem: The COVID-19 pandemic is a serious reminder of the detrimental effects infectious disease can have on the global population. As the world enters the third year of the pandemic, there is increased concern about COVID-19’s impact on current tuberculosis (TB) control programs and the ramifications COVID-19 has on people who have TB.  

The Solution: The End Tuberculosis Now Act significantly refocuses U.S. actions on resources to diagnose, prevent and treat TB. More specifically, it addresses virulent drug-resistant strains of TB and provides support for the latest best practices and technologies in the areas of diagnosis and treatment.

What to say when calling Congress: “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I would like you to support the End Tuberculosis Act.”


Women’s Empowerment Legislation

Girls LEAD Act

The Problem: Globally, the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed nearly 743 million girls out of school, on top of the approximately 132,000,000 adolescent girls between the age of 6 and 17 who are already not enrolled in school. In addition, the secondary consequences of COVID-19 are projected to put an additional 2.5 million girls at risk of child marriage between 2020 and 2025, in addition to the 12,000,000 adolescent girls under 18 who will marry annually.

The Solution: The bipartisan Girls LEAD Act will implement measures to increase adolescent girls’ participation in democracy, human rights and governance.

What to say when calling Congress: “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I would like you to support the Girls LEAD Act.”

Keeping Girls in School Act

The Problem: Across the world, 132 million girls are not enrolled in school, and 743 million girls have seen disruption in their education due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Girls ages 10-19 are three times more likely than boys to be kept out of school, particularly in countries affected by conflict. Moreover, when girls reach adolescence, they are at a high risk of dropping out due to forced marriage, family pressure or gender-based violence, among a number of additional barriers.

The Solution: The Keeping Girls in School Act empowers girls around the globe by increasing educational opportunities and economic security.

What to say when calling Congress: “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I would like you to support the Keeping Girls in School Act.”

Reach Every Mother & Child Act

The Problem: Although the global number of deaths of mothers and children under 5 have been nearly cut in half in the last 25 years, approximately 800 women still die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. This number is amplified due to the effects of COVID-19, as an estimated 56,700 additional maternal deaths could occur over a six-month period without intervention.

The Solution:The bipartisan Reach Every Mother and Child Act will strengthen the U.S. government’s efforts to end the preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and young children in developing countries,

What to say when calling Congress: “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I would like you to support the Reach Every Mother and Child Act.”


Peace and Security Legislation

Ethiopia Stabilization, Peace, and Democracy Act

The Problem: Millions of people in Tigray and the surrounding areas in Ethiopia are facing death from starvation due to the year-long and ongoing civil war in the region. The humanitarian situation is dire as the Ethiopian government continues to block food aid to areas in need which has cost thousands of civilian lives. This is on top of even further unspeakable atrocities and human rights abuses committed in Ethiopia’s north during the course of the war. 

War fuels poverty by destroying infrastructure, security, lives, and livelihoods. The existing poverty in the region continues to multiply as people lose access to essential resources in the region. 

The Solution: The Ethiopia Stabilization, Peace, and Democracy Act supports additional efforts in ending the civil war and other conflicts in Ethiopia. Specifically, the bill works to address the gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

What to say when calling Congress: “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I would like you to support the Ethiopia Stabilization, Peace, and Democracy Act.”


Education Legislation

READ Act Reauthorization Act

The Problem: Currently, 58 million primary school-aged children globally do not attend school and 260 million do not have access to quality education. Gender discrimination in school contributes to the illiteracy of over 500 million women in adulthood as well. These issues, along with frequent global conflicts, undermine the benefits of education. More specifically, the negative secondary consequences of COVID-19 have exacerbated these barriers over the last three years.

The Solution: On Sep. 8, 2017, the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act was signed into law. The bill emphasizes the value of education for economic growth and social mobility as it promotes educational programs around the world. Through the READ Act, partnerships for educational development will have greater oversight, coordination and a renewed focus on retention. The READ Act Reauthorization Act reauthorizes the READ Act for an additional five years.

What to say when calling Congress: “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I would like you to support the READ Act Reauthorization Act.”


Passed Legislation in the 116th Congress (2019-2020)

Global Fragility Act

Passed! Great work!

The Problem: Violence, instability and fragility in countries around the world threaten U.S. national security by creating environments in which terrorism, criminal activity and corruption thrive. Violent conflict is also driving global displacement and humanitarian crises, with 68 million people forcibly displaced around the world and 134 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

In the past decade, the U.S. Government has granted more than one-third of its foreign assistance to countries with ongoing violent conflicts. However, the U.S. lacks a coordinated long-term strategy for stabilizing violence-affected states and addressing the root causes of violence and fragility.

The Solution: The Global Fragility Act of 2019 would focus U.S. diplomatic, development and security efforts on preventing the root causes of violence and instability in countries around the world. 

End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act

Passed! Great work!

The Problem: Neglected Tropical Diseases cause the loss of up to 534,000 lives each year. They create an economic burden through productivity loss and health care costs and impede the ability to attend work, school or function at full capacity.

The Solution: The End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act will promote interagency cooperation and public-private partnerships, a successful example of which is the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) NTD Program.

Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act

Passed! Great work!

The Problem: Compared to the global rate of 40 percent, the rate of higher education enrollment for girls and women in Pakistan is just 9 percent. In addition, in Pakistan, less than 6 percent of women 25 and older attain a bachelor’s degree. This is despite the fact that economic returns for college graduates are the highest in the entire educational system–an average 17 percent increase in earnings per year of schooling.

The Solution: The U.S. already provides critical foreign assistance to Pakistani women. Since 2010, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded more than 6,000 scholarships for young women to receive higher education in Pakistan. The Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act ensures that the USAID Administrator awards at least 50 percent of the Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship Program to women for each of the calendar years 2020 through 2022.

View Recent Bills that Passed