How many members of Congress are there, you ask? Fair question. The short answer is 535. That is, 100 Senators, two from each state, and 435 Representatives, which makes about one representative for every 700,000 people. But there’s more to it than that. All members contribute, positively or otherwise, to the fight against global poverty. Below is a quick guide to the most important groups and their key members for foreign policy decisions.
The most influential committees for major foreign policy decisions are the aptly named House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The House committee has 45 members and is chaired by Rep. Ed Royce. The committee’s recent efforts to fight against global poverty have included a hearing on the Boko Haram kidnapping victims and, more recently, legislation to combat international human trafficking, introduced by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. Meanwhile in the Senate, New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez heads the Foreign Relations Committee. The committee’s recent efforts include a resolution urging a political solution to the ongoing humanitarian and refugee crisis in Syria.
Of course, among the most influential forces behind Congress are the parties themselves. In the House, Republicans outnumber Democrats by 33 members, while in the Senate there are 45 Republicans to 53 Democrats, along with two Independents. What does that mean for foreign aid? It is a popular belief that the left in America have a more vested interest in reducing global poverty than the right. Therefore, the Democrats would be more likely to favor measures to reduce global poverty.
Republican leadership under the Bush administration, in part as a response to 9/11, but also as part of Bush’s bid for a more “compassionate conservatism,” dramatically increased foreign aid. Republicans in the early 2000s renewed efforts to fight AIDS and malaria, and also tripled foreign aid to Africa. Under the Obama administration, aid increased further, now totaling about $30 billion.
It is The Borgen Project’s stance that the U.S. needs a far stronger commitment to foreign aid in order to address global poverty. But the good news is that under the control of both parties in recent years, the budget has moved in the right direction.
The key parties, key committees and key players of Congress all help shape American politics and the fight against global poverty. In Congress, reducing global poverty crosses party lines, which can lead to a better bipartisan consensus.
– Julian Mostachetti