The Link Between Poverty and EpidemicsOn Jan. 18, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to continue funding for H.R. 1660, or the Global Health Innovation Act, with an overwhelming vote of 423-3. The Global Health Innovation Act will support the progress of health innovations for USAID, the top U.S. government agency that works to end global poverty.

According to the original bill H.R. 2241, nearly nine million people die per year due to diseases and health conditions, many of which are preventable. USAID’s goal is to lower this statistic as much as possible and create democratic governments within underdeveloped societies.

The Global Health Innovation Act was reintroduced by Democratic Representative Albio Sires and other U.S. Representatives on March 21, 2017. Republican U.S. Representative of Florida Mario Diaz-Balart stated in a press release, “I am proud to reintroduce this critical piece of legislation with my friend, Rep. Albio Sires. It is more important than ever that the United States invest in global health and continue to deliver state-of-the-art medical devices and technologies.”

The Global Health Innovation Act will cost an estimated $500,000 or less from 2018-2022. This estimated amount by the Congressional Budget Office is subject to the availability of funds during each fiscal year. The bill would require USAID to track and report four annual updates to Congress of the developed health innovations and programs implemented.

These annual reports would track the extent to which health innovations have advanced, how progress is being measured and how these innovations are reaching set goals. The reports will also describe drugs, devices, vaccines, medical devices and technologies which are funded by the act. This detail is included to guarantee U.S. tax dollars are being spent in a logical and effective manner.

What work does USAID do?

USAID works toward sustainable global health by prioritizing three major goals: preventing child and mother deaths, controlling the HIV and AIDs epidemic and fighting infectious diseases. The overall goal of USAID is to improve health globally by bringing attainable medical innovations to impoverished countries in order to build better health systems. Through donors and partners, USAID has been working toward these goals and the Global Health Innovation Act will help bring these goals to reality.

Who is rallying for the Global Health Innovation Act?

U.S. Democratic Representatives Gerald Connolly (VA), Eliot Engel (NY), Brad Sherman (CA), David Cicilline (RI) and William Keating (WA) cosponsored the H.R. 1660 bill on March 21, 2017. Slowly, more Democratic Representatives joined them, including Suzan DelBene (WA), Joyce Beatty (OH), Nydia Velazquez (NY), Zoe Lofgren (CA), Ted Lieu (CA) and Timothy Walz (MN). Now that the bill has passed in the House of Representatives, it is important to continue rallying for its success as it still must pass in the Senate and be signed by President Trump.

How does it benefit the U.S.?

Global health is an important humanitarian concern as well as a business investment. Investing in global health creates new jobs and economic growth. According to Congressman Sires, between 2007 and 2015 global health investments generated $33 billion and 200,000 jobs. Investing in global health research and development has already impacted the U.S. with new health technologies. H.R. 1660 will continue to open doors for not only global health but also for the U.S. economy and technology.

What can be done to mobilize Congress?

Constituents across the U.S. can rally in support of the Global Health Innovation Act by calling or emailing Congress through a very simple process. Find the contact information for the appropriate Representatives here and Senators here. The Borgen Project has also provided a helpful tool to send emails through a template to Congress, which can be found here.

Contacting U.S. Senators and Representatives is effective because Congress staffers take a tally of every issue that constituents reach out for. This small bit of activism keeps important bills on the radar for Congressional leaders and can make a significant difference in a bill’s success. Even the smallest efforts can help create global change for people facing poverty.

– Courtney Hambrecht

Photo: Flickr

Congressmen and Congresswomen

In simple terms, Congressmen and Congresswomen are members of the U.S. Congress who are elected to represent the people in their districts. Congressmen and Congresswomen create and pass legislation and hold hearings. Congress also plays an essential role in passing laws, because all bills must be passed by Congress before they go to the president to be signed into law.

Congress is split into two bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House has 435 members, whereas the Senate has only 100 members. Each state has two senators, but the number of representatives a state has is based on its population. For example, California, a considerably large state, has 53 representatives, more than any other U.S. state.

In order to be a member of the House, a person has to be at least 25 years of age, a resident of his or her state at the time of the election, and have had U.S. citizenship for at least seven years. The Senate also requires members to be residents of his or her state at the time of election, though Senators must be at least 30 years of age and have been a U.S. citizen for at least nine years.

The requirements to hold office in Congress originate in British law. When creating the requirements, the founders made the age restriction for the House lower because it was designed to be the closest to the people and therefore less restrictive. The idea of having a higher age requirement for the Senate was because senators have duties that require more knowledge and character stability.

Aside from the differences in requirements to hold each position, the House and Senate also have different election cycles. Congressmen and Congresswomen in the House serve only two-year terms, whereas members of the Senate serve six-year terms. House elections happen every even year, but Senate elections are staggered during even years so that in any given election, only one-third of the Senate is up for reelection.

There are many differences between the House and the Senate, such as how long it takes each body to pass a bill. The House can pass a bill as quickly as in one day, whereas a bill can be debated on the Senate floor for two to three weeks.

The House operates based on committees and subcommittees, which are used to review bills and operate as an oversight for the executive branch of the U.S. government. This body’s main power is to pass federal legislation, though that legislation also has to go through the Senate and the president before becoming a law. The House also has the power to try federal officers for high crimes and misdemeanors, thought the Senate has the right to try the House’s impeachment.

Among the main powers of the Senate is the power to consent to treaties. The Senate’s consent to a treaty is required before a treaty can be ratified. The Senate also has the power to confirm the appointments of Cabinet secretaries and other federal officials and officers.

Each state has two senators to represent the state’s population, but a representative’s constituency is smaller, being only the population of their district. Congressmen and Congresswomen play an essential role in passing bills so that they can become laws after signed off on by the president. Though Congressmen and Congresswomen have many different tasks, their ultimate job is to represent their constituents in the U.S. government.

– Haley Rogers

Photo: Flickr

Qualifications for the SenateThe United States Senate has been meeting since 1789 to ensure the prosperity of the country through legislation. The people of this legislative body are some of the most important leaders in the country, and 16 of our presidents were once a part of this institution. But what does it take to gain one of the 100 respected positions in the U.S. Senate?

There are informal as well as formal qualifications for the Senate in the United States. The formal qualifications are clearly outlined in Article I of the U.S. Constitution. First, senators must be at least 30 years old. The youngest person to become a senator, John Henry Eaton, was actually only 28 years old when he was elected in 1818, but many believe his age was unknown when he was sworn in and therefore no one realized he was violating the Constitution.

The second qualification states that senators must have U.S. citizenship for at least nine years before being elected. This qualification is slightly more flexible in comparison to the qualification for president, which requires candidates to be natural-born citizens.

This qualification also allows for immigrant representation within the U.S. government. Many have been born in Europe or Canada and then immigrated to the United States and gained citizenship, allowing them to become senators.

The last of the specified qualifications for the Senate read that candidates must be a resident of the state which they represent at the time of the election. Former president and senator Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, yet represented Illinois in the Senate, as this was the state in which he resided at the time.

There are clear advantages to actually growing up and living in the state a potential senator wishes to represent, including making it easier to be elected. However, this qualification allows for politicians to move around more freely and live in a state where they are more likely to be elected than the one in which they grew up. Again, this benefits those born outside the United States, who can choose which state to reside in and represent.

Informal qualifications for the Senate have also emerged over the years. These are more like trends that have shown the type of people that citizens tend to deem qualified and choose to elect. Most senators have college educations, both private and public, and law school attendance is popular among these. Law also ranks as the number one declared profession by senators, followed by public service or politics. However, these qualifications are by no means necessary and many elected senators have not met them.

United States Senators are directly elected by the people they represent. This began when the 17th Amendment was adopted in 1913 to ensure Senate seats were not left open due to disagreements or corruption. The 17th Amendment stated that Senators serve six-year terms without term limits.

The Senate is crucial to the American political system. Its members are respected and work to pass laws that will advance the country. Because of the power they are given, their most important qualification is that the people have chosen them to serve and represent their interests to the best of their ability. When they are elected, they accept this responsibility and must value it above all else.

– Megan Burtis

Photo: Flickr

qualifications for the house of representatives

The House of Representatives is the first line of defense for legislation in the United States. Some may not consider the House to be as elite as the Senate, but there is no denying that it is vital to the legislative process. Nineteen former presidents once served in the House of Representatives, more than the 16 who served in the Senate. But what qualifies someone to be elected to this legislative body?

The House of Representatives includes 435 members, with population size determining the number of representatives a state receives. The qualifications for the House of Representatives are less stringent than those for the Senate and the presidency. This was purposely done to limit the obstacles for ordinary people to become members. There are three formal qualifications, which are outlined in Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.

The first qualification outlined in the Constitution states that members of the House must be at least 25 years old. Despite this, the youngest member of the House of Representatives, William Charles Cole Claiborne, was only 22 when elected and only 24 when he was elected for a second time. Currently, the youngest member of the House, Elise Stefanik, is 33 years old, exceeding the requirement by eight years.

The second qualification, like that of the Senate, deals with citizenship. The constitution states that members of the House of Representatives must have U.S. citizenship for seven years upon election. This allows citizens who were not born in the United States, which is required for the presidency, to be elected into the House, which is crucial to immigrant representation. However, the number of immigrants serving has decreased significantly since the 1960s.

As of 2015, only 407 past and present members of Congress had been born outside of the United States out of the more than 12,000 who had served. 347 of these members served in the House of Representatives. From 1967 to 1974, no immigrants served in either the House or the Senate.

The last of the qualifications for the House of Representatives concerns residency and is the same for those serving in the Senate. Those elected to the House must be residents of the state which they represent at the time of election. However, this qualification does not require that representatives live in the district they represent.

The same article of the Constitution which outlines these qualifications also includes how members will be elected. Members of the House of Representatives are elected every two years without term limits. In addition to this, the House must confirm members who are elected before they may take the Oath of Office.

The House of Representatives was modeled for the people. It was designed to be accessible as well as an integral part of the legislative process. In addition, the Speaker of the House remains a prominent political figure within the government. Every moving part within our government serves a purpose and without one the system simply could not work. These qualifications for the House of Representatives ensure that these parts continue to work to the absolute best of their ability.

– Megan Burtis

Photo: Google

In the wake of President Obama’s 2014 foreign aid budget announcement, Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairmen Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), along with twenty other members of Congress, spoke out on behalf for continuing foreign aid to several Middle Eastern countries. Their proposal included sending monetary aid to Armenia, Nagorno-Karabagh, Javajhj, and Christian American refugee camps in the Middle East.

These congressmen sent a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations requesting an aid budget for Armenia and the other previously mentioned countries. Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-Texas) and Ranking Democrat Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) drafted the letter together and hope that the bipartisan group can persuade the subcommittee to carry out their requests.

The letter asked that Congress approve a foreign aid budget that would provide:

– $5 million in U.S. humanitarian and developmental aid to Nagorno-Karabagh.

– At least 10% of U.S. assistance to Georgia to be earmarked for job creation programs in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of that country.

– At least $50 million in U.S. economic aid to Armenia.

– Funds for humanitarian and resettlement assistance specifically targeted to Armenian and other Christian populations as well as other minority communities affected by the recent unrest in the Middle East.

– Language strengthening Section 907 restrictions on U.S. aid to Azerbaijan.

– Removal of barriers to contact and communication with representatives of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic.

–Language calling for the participation of Karabagh leaders in the OSCE Minsk Group negotiations.

Congressmen Pallone and Grimm are concerned that Obama’s plan to give $24,719,000 in Economic Support Funds for Armenia will not be sufficient funds to fully aid the country. This budget is significantly less than last year’s $40 million budget. The Armenian government has requested $50 million in aid for 2014, an amount that is unlikely to be granted. Advocates of Armenian and Middle Eastern foreign aid are working diligently to ensure that funds for this region are increased before Congress passes the 2014 foreign aid budget.

– Mary Penn

Source: Armenian Weekly
Photo: Guardian