October 05, 2023

Senator Warren, Representatives García, Norcross, Beatty, Jayapal, Lead Colleagues to Urge Biden Administration to Support Aid for Crisis-Hit Countries

A new issuance of SDRs can be seen as an insurance policy for the U.S. as well as the rest of the world, and your administration can take effective action on its own by supporting a new issuance of SDRs at the IMF.

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. — United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representatives Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.), Donald Norcross (D-N.J.), Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) led 54 of their Senate and House colleagues in a letter urging the Biden administration to support a new major allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as way to quickly support developing countries recovering from debt, food, climate, and other crises as well as protect U.S. manufacturing jobs – at no cost to the U.S. government.

“A new SDR issuance would create more than $200 billion worth of international reserves for developing countries not including China, helping to stabilize global economies and U.S. export markets and therefore preserve and create U.S. jobs that would otherwise be lost to a global recession,” wrote the lawmakers. “Crucially, SDRs have zero cost to the U.S. federal budget or taxpayers.”

In the letter, the lawmakers urged the administration to support a new allocation of at least $650 billion worth of SDRs, citing what the IMF itself has described as the worst five-year forecast for the global economy in three decades. The IMF previously issued $650 billion worth of SDRs in August 2021 in response to the global COVID pandemic and related economic shocks. This initial issuance of SDRs helped recover many of the 2.2 million export-related jobs the U.S. lost to the pandemic and likely saved hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide, without aiding the U.S.’s adversaries or contributing to inflation.

“As developing countries around the world continue to feel the combined effects of simultaneous crises, it is powerfully important that the Biden administration support a new allocation of IMF SDRs to provide much-needed relief at no cost to the federal government,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren.

“SDRs are a powerful tool to alleviate poverty and help developing countries around the world fund health care, infrastructure, food access, and more,” said Representative García. SDRs cost American taxpayers $0, and also boost export-related jobs here at home. A few years ago, the IMF issued hundreds of billions of dollars in SDRs, and this economic aid was a lifeline for developing nations during the pandemic. It is incumbent upon the Biden administration to support a new allocation of SDRs from the IMF as countries around the world continue to face converging crises.” 

“I am proud to join so many of my colleagues in calling on the Biden Administration to support a new issuance of International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Rights,” said Representative Joyce Beatty. “In the face of multiple global crises, this resource is absolutely vital to promote global economic stability, continued development in low-income countries, and resilient U.S. export markets. It’s also pivotal in saving key manufacturing and union jobs for Americans spanning Central Ohio and across the country.” 

“In 2021, the Biden Administration made a momentous decision to support hundreds of billions of dollars in financial support to developing countries through the IMF—all at no cost to U.S. taxpayers. This was a critical lifeline to hundreds of lower-income countries weathering the devastating impacts of the pandemic,” said Representative Jayapal. “With disturbing evidence that the developing world continues to face strong economic headwinds, including persistent poverty and hunger, I am proud to join other Congressional progressives in urging the Administration to follow up on its important initiative with a new unilateral allocation of Special Drawing Rights at the IMF, which will boost U.S. export jobs and help ensure a strong global economic recovery going into 2024.”

“Issuing a new round of Special Drawing Rights will stabilize economies around the world and ensure that developing nations can continue to import high-quality American-made products and goods,” said Representative Donald Norcross. “America powers the global economy, and the new SDRs will support American jobs and small businesses.”

Along with Senator Warren and Representatives García, Norcross, Beatty, and Jayapal, the letter was also signed by Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Representatives Becca Balint (D-Vt.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Shontel Brown (D-Ohio), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Greg Casar (D-Texas), Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), Christopher Deluzio (D-Pa.), Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), Al Green (D-Texas), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Steven Horsford (D-Nev.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Calif.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Summer Lee (D-Pa.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Kevin Mullin (D-Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.),  Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Shri Thanedar (D-Mich.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), David Trone (D-Md.), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Susan Wild (D-Pa.), Nikema Williams (D-Ga.), and Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.).

SDRs are international reserve assets issued by the IMF to help member countries pay debts, bolster foreign reserves, or fund critical purchases like vaccines and food supplies by exchanging their SDRs for hard currency. In times of crisis, the IMF can issue more SDRs to its members, providing immediate global relief at virtually zero cost.

“Leading your administration now to support a new issuance of at least $650 billion in SDRs is a simple, cost-free, and effective way of saving many export-related jobs—including manufacturing and union jobs—in the U.S., while saving many lives in developing countries and mitigating the effects of a global slowdown,” concluded the lawmakers.

“The labor movement strongly supports the call for a new allocation of SDRs which represent a transformative measure needed to avoid future shocks and job loss related to climate; health; debt; and digitalization; among other challenges,” said Catherine Feingold, AFL-CIO International Director. 

“A new SDR issuance is a critical measure to provide rapid relief to countries hit by the global debt crisis, alongside intersecting social and economic crises, which severely reduce spending for health and social services,” said Cate Oswald, Principal Chief Program Officer at Partners In Health. “In health centers and hospitals around the world, health care workers — including Partners In Health staff — bear witness to the tragic embodiment of these crises: ill health, unnecessary suffering, and preventable deaths. That’s why we call on President Biden to support a new issuance of SDRs.”

"The US economy lost about 2 million export-related jobs in 2020 due to the loss of demand from the rest of the world, during the world recession. So this new issuance, like the last one, could save many US jobs going forward, at the same time that it saves lives throughout the world,” said Mark Weisbrot, Research Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy.

“Foreign Policy for America is proud to join with congressional leaders and this extraordinary coalition in calling on the Administration to support a new allocation of Special Drawing Rights at the IMF,” said Andrew Albertson, Executive Director, Foreign Policy for America. “Supporting this allocation is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. At no cost to American taxpayers, it will strengthen the resilience of debt-burdened, climate vulnerable developing countries confronting multiple global crises; expand trade and investment opportunities for American businesses; and fortify our partnerships around the world by demonstrating US responsiveness to developing countries' needs at a time of growing global competition.

“As a Catholic Christian, I hear the call of faith to put persons first who are the poorest among us. A broad range of Catholic organizations and others have called for a new release of Special Drawing Rights. The 2021 release of Special Drawing Rights likely saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Let’s do it again! President Biden can act and ensure that these funds are unlocked,” said Sister Diane Koorie, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. 

“In this letter a record number of members of Congress are calling for the release of Special Drawing Rights for global crisis relief, recognizing that our prosperity in the U.S. is linked to the well-being of people around the world. Organizations representing tens of millions of Americans support this letter,” said Isaac Evans-Frantz, Action Corps Executive Director.

Numerous countries around the world have also recently called for a new SDR allocation of the same size or greater than in 2021. The African Union included a call for such an allocation in their Nairobi Declaration concluding their summit last month, and over 50 civil society groups in the Caribbean recently urged Biden and Yellen to support a new issuance. Colombian president Gustavo Petro called for a new major allocation in his speech at the UN General Assembly last month.

This letter was also endorsed by the AFL-CIO, Action Corps, ActionAid USA, Advocacy Network for Africa, Africa Faith and Justice Network, American Friends Service Committee, Association of Concerned Africa Scholars (USA), Center for American Progress, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), Demand Progress, Friends of the Earth US, Justice Is Global, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Oxfam America, Partners in Health (PIH), Peace Action New York State, Public Citizen, Sisters of Mercy – Justice Team, and United Church of Christ, Justice and Local Church Ministries (UCC).