January 31, 2022

Warren Leads Colleagues in Calling on Senate Majority Leader Schumer to Support Additional Assistance to Low-Income and Developing Countries

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. — United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to call his attention to the House of Representatives’ adoption of $900 billion in COVID-19 assistance to low-income and developing countries via the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the 2022 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPs) Appropriations Act. They urged Leader Schumer to support a similar Senate authorization. 

Less than 10% of people living in low-income countries have received at least one vaccine dose, endangering their lives and – because of threats from potential new variants of the virus – the lives of Americans. Meanwhile, the Omicron variant is setting new infection records and necessitating vaccine boosters or even updated vaccines to adequately protect people’s lives and livelihoods. After relatively stable world hunger rates for the previous five years, nearly one-tenth of the global population, or about 811 million people, went hungry in 2020, and 30 million more people are expected to face hunger in 2030 than otherwise would have had the pandemic not occurred.

“COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly worldwide, deepening hunger, inequality, poverty, and disease,” the senators wrote. “We cannot stand idly by while the virus continues to ravage the global population, potentially spawning further dangerous new variants, holding back the global economic recovery, and exacerbating the tenuous economic situation of millions in poverty."

To address the ongoing global economic and public health crisis, the House of Representatives adopted an authorization for an additional 1.5 trillion IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) in the 2022 SFOPs Appropriations Act. If enacted, this additional SDR issuance passed by the House would provide developing economies with roughly more than $900 billion in additional reserves that they can use to acquire vaccines and maintain strong public health budgets. 

There are two ways to get this done: the Senate can and should pass the SDRs authorization itself, but another path would be for the Senate to support the SDRs authorization passed by the House when the SFOPs Appropriations Act goes to conference.

“We thank you for your attention to this vital issue and ask that you work closely with House leadership to enact an authorization of 1.5 trillion SDRs in end-of-the-year legislation to hasten the end of the pandemic, strengthen the global recovery, create American export jobs, and showcase the continued power of a U.S.-led multilateral solution to resolving the world’s greatest humanitarian, economic and public-health challenges,” concluded the senators