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How many Members of CongressHow many Members of Congress are there? Five hundred and thirty five. In the United States, the government consists of three equally powerful branches that are intended to check one another to ensure that no one branch exceeds its purview. These branches are the judicial, the executive and the legislative branches. The legislative branch is the branch that houses the totality of Congress, both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The legislative branch is responsible for drafting and passing bills that are then sent to the President of the United States, or the executive branch, for signage and finalization. Although the Senate and the House work together under the auspices of Congress, on a day-to-day basis, they function separately from one another.

How Many Members of Congress Are in Each Chamber?

The Senate consists of 100 members, two from each state in the United States determined relatively in a straightforward way. The only possible change in the size of the Senate could come from the admission of a new state into the union, according to VoteTocracy.

A senatorial term is six years in length with approximately “one-third of the total membership of the Senate” elected every two years, according to the United States Senate website.

The number of members in the House of Representatives, on the other hand, is a more complex determination. Although the number of members of the House is stably 435, the power and jurisdiction that these members hold is subject to change and is often in flux.

The 435 members of the House represent the 435 congressional districts of the United States. According to the Constitution, these “political subdivisions have about equal populations, to maintain the ‘one person, one vote’ standard.”

Aside from the simple standard of approximately equal population distribution, there are difficult political contests involved in drawing the definitive lines of these districts and this process, termed gerrymandering, which are responsible for constant congressional battles.

In addition to the members of Congress who represent the 50 states, there is a delegate sent from the District of Columbia who holds minimal to no voting privilege.

The segments of Congress total 535 members with voting privileges and an additional delegate from the District of Columbia. In order for the legislative body of our nation to run smoothly, each and every member must dutifully serve his role.

Liz Pudel

Photo: Flickr

how to work in congress
Wondering how to get a job working for Congress? We’ve demystified the process and distilled it into 10 possible paths to take.

10 Tips to Get a Job Working for Congress

  1. Networking: Networking is undoubtedly the most important factor when searching for a job in Congress. According to the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF), congressional offices receive thousands of resumes per month, so it is crucial that an applicant is able to stand out from the rest of the pile. The best way to ensure your resume is carefully considered is by knowing a staffer who can make recommendations to the congressional leader. Thus, landing a job on Capitol Hill is largely about connecting with the right people and mobilizing your networks.
  2. Create a killer resume: The hiring process for congressional interns and staff workers begins with a list of resumes organized from top to bottom, Roll Call explains. Having a strong resume is a key component in the hiring process. When writing a resume, Career Casts advises, “you need to create a resume tailored to your customers: the people in a position to hire you.” In other words, talk about relevant experiences and capabilities that could benefit the congressional leaders. Working for The Borgen Project, for instance, would be an applicable and useful experience to include.
  3. Start early on: Reach out not only to congressional leaders, but to potential candidates as well. Former intern Aaron Marquis notes that, “you should keep an eye out on rising political candidates. Network with these candidates early on to land a job later.”
  4. Build a target list: Some important questions to address when building a target list are as follows: “What is your home state? Where have you previously lived? Where did you go to school? Where do you have family?” CMF urges job searchers to use every state and district they’ve spent time in and know something about to help them build a list of target offices. Having an extensive list of congressional leaders as potential employers means having an increased likelihood of landing a job.
  5. Start at the bottom of the hierarchy: There is nothing wrong with fetching coffee for a congressional leader if it means getting a foot in the door. Often times, congressional interns and staff members start their career handling grunt work. CMF claims that, “working on Capitol Hill is all about paying your dues. It doesn’t matter what job you get as long as you have one in the first place. Once you accomplish that, upward mobility can happen very quickly.”
  6. Work for a political campaign: A fun and exciting way to meet congressional candidates is to assist them with their political campaign. Former intern Aaron Marquis says, “political campaigns need effective communicators, writers and strategic minds. You gain valuable contacts in politics whether your candidate wins or loses. If your candidate wins, you can contact the candidate later looking for positions within her office.”
  7. Read newspapers and check websites: Marquis suggests checking the websites for the Senate Placement Office and the House of Representatives’ Office of Human Resources to find available staff positions in Congress. It also wouldn’t hurt to look through “The Hill,” “Roll Call” and “Opportunities in Public Affairs,” three Washington newspapers covering politics, to find available positions in Congress. Notably, each paper has its own classified section with job listings.
  8. Work for retired congressional leaders: Even if the retired leader is no longer working for Congress, they still have all the necessary connections. Marquis recommends asking a retired congressman if he or she needs any help. Although the position may not pay or last very long, it’s possible to obtain Congress positions through the contacts made by working for a retired congressional leader.
  9. Attend events and meet congressmen: According to Marquis, “you should start by attending speaking engagements of the incumbent and new congressional representatives. Speak with council people and lawmakers in your home state to acquire leads that can lead to a job in Congress.” Let the representative know you’re passionate by attending events that he or she speaks at.
  10. Move to Washington, D.C.: CMF suggests moving to Capitol Hill because living in D.C provides the distinct advantage of being able to meet with staffers in person. Face-to-face contact is always preferable and tends to be the most effective.

All things considered, it is vital to be open to various positions when searching for a job working for Congress. Networking with the right people, having the proper credentials and letting congressional leaders know that you are determined could all lead to a job on Capitol Hill.

Megan Hadley

Sources: Congress Foundation, Roll Call, eHow, Career Cast
Photo: Flickr

How Many Senators Are There
How many senators are there? The United States Senate is comprised of 100 Senators, two from each state.

While it may sound simple, developing this representative structure caused a lot of debate at the Constitutional Convention where the U.S. Constitution was drafted. Though only thirteen states existed at this point in 1787, the delegates from these thirteen would form the federal government whose authority would eventually span across fifty states.

These statesmen concluded that a body of elected representatives would be the best way to form laws for a country that was broken up into smaller entities. Delegates from larger states created dissension by arguing for representation based on population. The delegates from smaller states felt cheated and refused to agree to this proposed structure, known as the Virginia Plan.

A delegate from New Jersey, a small state, responded by introducing a plan that proposed equal representation for each state. This suggestion was called the New Jersey Plan and mirrored the structure outlined in the Articles of Confederation, the document acting as a sort of temporary constitution at that time. Both sides of the debate threatened to leave the convention if their plan wasn’t used, and the situation looked grim.

It was Roger Sherman, a delegate from Connecticut, who offered the Great Compromise as a solution. His bicameral (two-bodied) system would satisfy both large and small states: he proposed a House of Representatives that would represent states proportionally by population and a Senate that would represent all states equally. Thus began the representative system seen in the U.S. today.

As each new state was added to the union over time, two more senators were added to the Senate. In 1959, the present body of 100 senators was complete, with two senators representing each of the 50 states.

Each senator serves a six-year term with the chance of reelection at the end of this period. In order to be elected as a senator, an individual must be at least 30 years old and have been a U.S. citizen for nine years. Leading this body is the Vice President, who is elected alongside the President every four years.

Senators also belong to smaller bodies within the Senate called “committees” that handle specific tasks. These committees are usually composed of 7 to 15 members, each of whom has extensive power.

Jacob Hess

Sources: FAIR.org, Senate.gov
Photo: Flickr

Important Job of a Senator

The job of a senator is to act on behalf of the American people in legislative sessions to ensure the voice of the common citizen is heard. Each of the 50 U.S. states has two Senate representatives. Discussed below are the most important aspects of the job of a senator.

 

The Job of a Senator: Key Aspects

 

Represent Constituents
The most important job of a senator is to represent the people. A senator speaks with citizens about problems, concerns or suggestions they have for their district.

People elect their senators with the expectation that they will fight for legislation that is in the best interest of the average citizen.

Senators’ offices take phone calls and emails from citizens who want to share their opinions. They then review the information they receive to find out the stances of their constituents on various issues.

 

Inform the Public
In addition to gathering information from members of the community, a state senator shares information with the public.

A senator must be proactive and diplomatic. They may make many visits to schools, clubs and other organizations that want to learn more about the legislative process.

Senators also hold press conferences, give speeches and speak with the media in order to educate people on current issues and inform them of current legislation.

Additionally, if a constituent is having difficulty working with a government agency, they can contact their state senator to help facilitate interaction and strengthen their voice.

 

Serve on Committees
Senators are required to serve on Senate committees. Each committee has a different focus such as health, education, business or national security.

At each scheduled committee meeting, members listen to presentations from lobbyists, organizations and other interested parties on important topics. Afterward, senators debate new bills and propose amendments to the existing legislation.

 

Introduce Legislation
A senator also uses constituent feedback to identify new laws that need to be passed. Senators work with their staff to research topics, identify issues and propose laws to protect citizens.

An important part of the job of a senator is to be active and vocal in order to get as much publicity and support for a bill as possible. They consistently network with fellow Senate members and organizations to convince others why supporting their bill is important and just.

A finalized bill will pass through several committees on its way to the Senate floor for a full vote.

If said bill originated in the Senate, it is passed on to the House of Representatives for approval by Congress. If approved by Congress, the bill goes to the president to be signed into law or vetoed.

 

So what are the differences between the Senate and Congress?

The Senate and the Congress share the responsibility of drafting and passing legislature for the law. However, each body has differing structures and powers.

According to AllGov’s website, the Senate is known as a “continuing body,” because its members are only up for reelection every six years, whereas members of Congress are reelected every two years. Additionally, while the rules of procedure for Congress are re-adopted for every new session, the rules of the Senate have remained continuous since 1789.

The Senate also has the sole power to approve or reject nominations by the president and treaties with foreign governments by a two-thirds vote.

Taylor Resteghini

Sources: AllGov, United States Senate, United States House of Representatives
Photo: Flickr

Electrify Africa
President Obama has signed into law the Electrify Africa Act of 2015, which will bring electricity to millions in Africa.

About two-thirds of people in Africa do not have access to reliable power, according to BBC News. The Electrify Africa Act will establish a strategy to help sub-Saharan countries implement power solutions to promote economic growth and reduce poverty.

For people without electricity, simple tasks such as cooking or reading are complicated without a light source at night. Many people in Africa are also unable to use modern technologies, like cell phones or computers, or do basic tasks such as refrigerating food and medicine.

The lack of electricity causes some families in Africa to use fossil fuels or charcoal, which has a negative effect on the environment and health.

According to BBC News, House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce stated that this initiative will “improve the lives of millions in sub-Saharan Africa by helping to reduce reliance on charcoal and other toxic fuel sources that produce fumes that kill more than HIV/Aids and malaria combined.”

Electrify Africa
Power Africa was launched by President Obama in 2013. It took nearly two years for it to pass through the Senate and House of Representatives and become the Electrify Africa Act of 2015.

The U.S. initially invested $7 billion in the project but that number has since risen to nearly $43 billion. According to Voice of America, the high cost of energy in sub-Saharan Africa makes producing exports impossible, so it would be beneficial to the U.S. to help Africa become a major trading partner.

In addition to the U.S. government, African governments and private companies are involved in the development of the Power Africa initiative. The Electrify Africa Act provides a framework for companies to invest in African energy solutions.

The long-term goal is to double the amount of electricity available to people in sub-Saharan Africa, bringing electricity to 50 million people in the region by 2020.

Kaitlyn Arford

Sources: BBC, Christian Science Monitor, Voice of America

Ways to Help the World's Poor

Ways to Help the World’s Poor

Do you want to know some easy ways to help the world’s poor? Well, here are 10 simple ways to help the world’s poor, which can often be done without even having to leave your home!

 

1. Donate

One of the quickest and most obvious ways to help the world’s poor is to donate to charity. Click here to donate to The Borgen Project.

 

2. Call Congress

This way to help the world’s poor is surprisingly simple. Every person in the United States has 3 representatives in Congress (2 Senators and 1 Representative in the House). By calling these 3 peoples’ offices each week, individuals can show the Congressmen the issues that they care about. Calling your Congressmen is a simple process. Generally, an intern will answer the phone, or you can leave a message after hours.

The message you need to say is simple: “My name is ___, I live in ___, and I want to raise the funding for helping the world’s poor,” or something similar. As few as 7 people calling in can make a Congressman change his mind on a bill: Congressmen want those they are serving in the U.S. to be happy so if you let them know what you want, they are more likely to listen. Go here for more detailed instructions.

 

3. Inform Yourself

This is one of the simplest ways to help the world’s poor, and also it helps you to do the other things more effectively. Basically, all you need to do is stay informed on the issues. Pay attention to what is happening in Congress and read up on current poverty-related events. It may surprise you to find out that poverty has made some great strides in the past few years. Indeed, in the past 20 years, the world’s undernourished has decreased by 50%. Life expectancy has also increased by 1/3.

(Browse The Borgen Project to find out more interesting facts about poverty).

 

4. Build Buzz/Raise Awareness

Now that you’ve done your research, you can use your new information as tools to build buzz or to raise the awareness of those around you. If you care about the world’s poor, you can be sure that other people do too, but may just be unaware of how they can help. You can share info on different poverty-fighting organizations with your colleagues, family, and friends (see 1. Donate for ideas). You can also call into radio shows, write to editors, speak locally about the cause, send ideas to the media, or anything else that may bring the idea of helping the world’s poor to the forefront of people’s vision and thoughts.

 

5. Social Media

Recently, social media has become one of the most fantastical ways a person can help the world’s poor (among other ventures). This is perhaps the easiest way to help, as well. Many Congressional leaders (your members of Congress) have Facebook pages, Twitters, or websites. All you need to do is either post on their pages to bring up the idea of helping the world’s poor, or post on your own about the various issues. Also, you can easily follow many different organizations, including The Borgen Project, and retweet them or post about them on Facebook or other websites. Overall, your voice will be heard. (The Social Media of Congress can be found here and here). (Also, follow us on Twitter!)

 

6. Get Political

Although you can call Congress or post on their Facebook pages, there are other ways to help the world’s poor and to “get political.” If you are willing, you can always arrange a meeting with Congressional staffers to tell them what issues (like reducing global poverty) you are interested in. You can also mobilize those around you; just one person calling into Congress will make a difference, but if multiple people in an area call Congress about the same issue and around the same time, there will be a bigger effect. Finally, you can “bird dog” Congress, which means to go to where a legislator is speaking, and ask them publicly about poverty (For example, “What are you doing to help poverty?” or “Will you support helping reduce global poverty?”, etc).

 

7. Fundraising

Another one of the ways to help the world’s poor is fundraising. Contact people about various organizations to donate to, or use sites like Crowd Rise to start a campaign. You can also run marathons or accomplish other feats as a way to raise money, as long as you ask people to be your sponsor. You can also ask for donations to different charities rather than receiving gifts for your birthdays, weddings, or other events.

 

8. Be a Consumer with a Cause

One of the surprising ways to help the world’s poor is simply by being a consumer, or something who buys things. This can be done by buying products from websites that donate a portion of their proceeds to charity, or from nonprofit organizations that sell shirts or other merchandise to help the cause. The Borgen Project even has a Visa Card that has no annual fee, and some unique card designs. Basically, when possible, buy from places that will help the cause.

 

9. Arrange Events

One of the harder ways to help the world’s poor is arranging events. Of course, this does not need to be too difficult: you could host parties (or movie/TV show marathons with your friends!) and have a $5 (suggested donation) to get in. This can be done by living your life as normal, but adding in charity donation so that everyone can get involved. On the other hand, you can also host poverty-based events or parties with the pure purpose of raising awareness on poverty and discussing its issues. Finally, you can have a “non-event” event, where instead of going out that night, everyone donates a certain amount and stays in.

 

10. Volunteer

Finally, one of the most difficult (but, arguably, most rewarding) ways to help the world’s poor is through volunteering. This can encompass many different things: volunteer for a political campaign, volunteer for a nonprofit organization, volunteer for a movement to fight poverty or grab an internship. Personally, I am an intern writing for The Borgen Project; I do not get paid, but it helps get the message out to the world. Overall, you can find volunteer opportunities online (for example, through Idealist), but there are also local opportunities that may be available if you ask around.

To see even more easy ways to help the world’s poor, look here.

– Corina Balsamo

Source: The Borgen Project
Photo: Flickr

International_Basic_Education_Caucus
Last week, Representative Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Representative Mike Quigley (D-IL) officially launched the newest caucus in Congress: the bipartisan International Basic Education Caucus.

These two members came together across party lines to encourage a commitment from both Republicans and Democrats in support of basic-quality education around the world. The caucus, officially launched on June 24, 2015, is encouraged and supported by several partner organizations, including the Global Campaign for Education (GCE-US), RESULTS and the Basic Education Coalition. It aims to promote understanding in the 114th Congress of the many global issues associated with inadequate primary education in developing countries — including increasing economic and security issues in the United States. The caucus is intended to encourage its members — and Congress at large — to think of universal education not just as an altruistic good, but as a critical strategic advantage for the United States.

With over 121 million children and adolescents out of school around the world, U.S. funding for international education in developing nations has become increasingly important. Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty in these nations. The caucus will not only promote understanding of the types of challenges that arise from a lack of quality, universal education, but will also encourage bipartisan legislation to address these challenges.

One such piece of legislation is the Education For All Act, which has been introduced in previous sessions of Congress, most recently in 2013 by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Congressman Reichert (R-WA). The bill, which had 76 cosponsors in the House and the Senate, was intended to amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, to include further assistance for developing nations in order to promote universal primary education around the world. It simultaneously strengthened the U.S.’s commitment to global education and supported the means by which developing societies could become sustainable and independent. Though the bill did not pass when introduced, it is possible that the new caucus will bring about increased support for similar pieces of legislation in coming sessions.

While there are numerous congressional caucuses that do very little, there appears to be a reason to be optimistic when considering the future of the International Basic Education Caucus. The caucus will take part in numerous activities, including sponsored briefs on basic education issues, congressional receptions in coordination with partner organizations and letters to the presidential administration and to various world leaders. Such activities are intended to help increase support in Congress for basic international education programs, improve understanding of the seriousness of global education issues among world leaders and establish the means with which to respond to attacks on education, such as recent attacks on schools by Boko Haram in Nigeria or by the Taliban in Pakistan.

Representative Reichert commented upon the caucus’s launch, saying, “If we are going to spread freedom, promote economic growth, enhance stability and security and alleviate poverty around the world, the best way to do that is by first ensuring every young child […] has access to basic education.”

An innovative and historic effort, the bipartisan International Basic Education Caucus has the potential to make a real impact in developing nations and the world at large.

Melissa Pavlik

Sources: Basic Education Coalition, Congressman Mike Quigley, National Education Association
Photo: Flickr

Middle_East_and_North_Africa
On July 22, the Subcommittee on the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) met for a hearing on promoting U.S. commerce in the region. Congressional members of the subcommittee called upon two witnesses from the State Department, Mr. Scott Nathan, special representative for Commercial & Business Affairs, and Ms. Elizabeth Richard, deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Near East Affairs, to give testimony and answer questions.

The hearing largely consisted of a few Congress members inquiring about the state of the MENA economies and the State Department officials responding in optimistic anecdotes. Interestingly, throughout the hearing, certain assertions were made and accepted without dispute.

First, the economic state of affairs in the MENA region is far from ideal. As Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen observed, the MENA region accounts for 5.5% of the world’s total population, yet economic output falls short of expectations, just contributing 4% of the world’s GDP.

Second, poverty facilitates the fostering of terrorism. This assertion was repeated by all Congress members who gave initial statements. For example, Congressman Darrell Issa said “Everyday ISIS is in the frontlines of discussion. When in fact, the areas that have fomented so much opportunity for extremism does not get looked at properly.” He followed up by listing one of the areas that does not get looked at properly as “the opportunity in an entrepreneurial, economic way to go from a lack of prosperity to prosperity.”

Third, U.S. businesses have a role to play in strengthening the economies of these countries. Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen went as far as to say, “Increasing trade with the region will strengthen business, the missing piece of the Arab Spring in the region.”

In all, the Congress members argued that the poor state of the economies of the MENA region allowed terrorism to grow and that a crucial part of the U.S. strategy for thwarting terrorism should be to encourage U.S. business investment in the region.

Analysis of global poverty reveals the Middle East and North Africa, home to roughly 350 million people, are not in a particularly dire economic situation relative to other regions. Of the 350 million, only around 2% live in extreme poverty, on less than $1.25 a day, according to the World Bank in 2010. In contrast, in China that figure is 12%, in India, 33%, and in Sub-Saharan Africa, 48%.

Granted, since the Arab Spring in 2011, holistic data on the economies in the region have been hard to attain. Congressman Gerry Connolly’s line of questioning touched upon that reality and the State Department acknowledged it.

Nevertheless, certain realities are known for certain. Poverty has increased since the Arab Spring in certain parts of the region, notably Syria and Iraq. Since 2011, 4 million Syrians have fled Syria as the civil war rages, of which 2.3 million went to MENA countries. Where there is conflict and turmoil, inevitably the straining of resources and poverty follows.

But even with the worsening of the economic situation in certain areas of the MENA region, areas such as China, India and Sub-Saharan Africa still struggle with much greater extreme poverty.

Yet these regions do not face the specter of terrorism like the MENA region does. Leading to the obvious conclusion, terrorism is a multi-causal phenomenon that cannot be simply attributed to a lack of economic opportunity. But as the Congress members asserted, lack of economic opportunity intuitively does allow for terrorism’s growth as people in poverty have little to lose and less to hope for.

And although reducing poverty in the region will be far from a magic bullet against terrorism, it should not only be pursued for normative reasons but for geopolitical considerations as well.

Maybe the Congress members are right in the importance they place on the role of U.S commerce in the region in hampering terrorism. There is only one way to know, and millions to be helped out of extreme poverty.

Connor Bohannan

Sources: Congressional Research Service, House of Committee Foreign Affairs, World Bank 1, World Bank 2, UN Refugee Agency
Photo: Flickr

Scott_Peters
I am embarrassed to admit that before interning for The Borgen Project, I did not have any idea who my Congressman was. I spend most of my time going to school out of state, so I am not too in touch with the politics of my hometown. However, no matter what state I am in, it matters who is representing my interests, so I have done a little research on my House hero.

I live in San Diego, which is in California’s 52nd Congressional district. The Representative for this district is none other than Democrat Scott Peters. Have not heard of him? Not to worry, here are some quick facts on this West Coast politician.

Peters was actually born in Ohio and raised in Michigan, but he has spent the entirety of his political career serving the people of San Diego. He received his Bachelor of Arts at Duke University, and went on to graduate from law school at New York University. Peters then moved to the Golden State, and after a 15 year career as an environmental lawyer, was elected to San Diego City Council. He later became the city’s first City Council President.

I am extremely proud of my beautiful city. Little did I know that I can attribute much of this to Peters, who helped lead the $2 billion redevelopment of downtown San Diego and the widespread cleanup of the beaches and bays.

After a storied City Council tenure, Peters was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012. He currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Judiciary Committee, and previously served on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. He is a member of the House Democratic Caucus, the New Democrat Coalition and the No Labels Caucus.

Peters is listed as the fourth most independent Democrat in Congress and is a known problem solver. He often brings people together in order to resolve complex issues. His office is very responsive to constituent recommendations and requests, and I have been pleased with the in-depth emails I have received.

As a resident of San Diego for 21 years, I finally figured out who my voice in Congress is, and I encourage all of you to find out for yourself what distinguished individual is making your case on the Hill.

– Katie Pickle

Sources: US House of Representatives, Scott Peters
Photo: Times of San Diego

ticking clockAs the expiration date for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) of 2000 approaches in September, members of Congress are calling for a rapid-fire renewal process to protect the work that AGOA has accomplished so far.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sander Levin (D-Mich.) have introduced The AGOA Extension and Enhancement Act of 2015 that will renew the act for ten years.

Originally signed into law in May of 2000, the AGOA was a bipartisan initiative intended to strengthen economic relations between the United States and Africa. By creating trade preferences for African products that allowed for duty-free entry into the United States, the AGOA sought to provide an exclusive economic partnership with budding African industries and American consumers. The Brookings Institution, a Washington, DC-based think tank, estimates that the AGOA has created several hundred thousand direct s in Africa—particularly in textiles.

Under the agreement, eligible African nations would receive “unlimited duty free and quota free access to the U.S. market for apparel made in Africa from U.S. fabric and U.S. thread.” Several African nations saw unprecedented growth in exports to the United States. For example,  Kenya saw a 1,375% increase in exports to the U.S. between 2000 and 2001.

“The legislation [AGOA] has helped transform the economic landscape for Sub-Saharan Africa by stimulating new trade opportunities for African and Americans businesses, creating new jobs, and investments worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” wrote a U.S. Administration 2002 report.

The AGOA was initially set to expire in 2008 until a new round of legislation pushed the expiration date back to September 2015.

In addition to the African jobs created by the AGOA, there are many American jobs dependent on the trade network that this legislation has formed. The United States Trade Representative has estimated that exports to Africa are responsible for more than 120,000 American jobs. The AGOA has provided a level of security that have lead to a four-fold increase in exports to Africa—something that helped to pay thousands of salaries stateside.

“This legislation will promote American trade and strengthen our economic ties with important countries,” said Sen. Paul Ryan in April. “It will encourage our friends in Africa and Haiti to pursue free enterprise and solidify the rule of law. This legislation demonstrates that more trade can create opportunity at home and promote our economic values abroad.”

Brookings has argued that uncertainty over the act’s renewal could halt the progress made so far by the AGOA. Without the stability of the legislation, textile factories are less likely to receive orders in enough time to produce clothing for a new season of shopping. In the void left by the AGOA, competing manufacturers like China will be eager to step in and soak up the businesses that were once protected by the AGOA.

Emma Betuel

Sources: WPI, IB Times, Brookings
Photo: Global Vison