Massachusetts Peace Action joined with over 20 humanitarian, international development, human rights, labor, faith-based, and policy organizations (listed below, followed by quotations) representing tens of millions of people in the U.S. applauded the passage of an amendment by the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, July 31, that “Directs the U.S. to support the IMF’s issuance of 2 trillion special drawing rights [SDRs] and to support debt relief to help countries around the globe recover economically from COVID-19.” SDRs are essentially the Fund’s reserve currency, to be made available in times of economic crisis or downturn (as they were last used in a major allocation, in 2009).
The Manager’s Amendment to H.R. 7617 that was passed to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2021 also directs U.S. representatives at the IMF and World Bank to support suspension of debt payments to these and other international financial institutions during the pandemic, and to oppose any agreements or provisions that would lead to countries reducing their health care spending during the pandemic.
House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA) said: “The Garcia amendment would direct the Secretary of Treasury to negotiate a two-trillion-dollar allocation of Special Drawing Rights by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Such an increase would have an immediate benefit to developing countries around the world by providing them with additional resources to address the pandemic. This amendment comes at no cost to the Treasury and would demonstrate our commitment to a global and coordinated approach to addressing the coronavirus.”
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has stated that the IMF issuance and distribution of resources to all member countries has no cost whatsoever to the U.S. budget. It is not U.S. spending and will not lead to any increase in U.S. spending.
Advocates of the SDRs point out that the World Food Program has estimated that the number of people facing acute hunger will double this year, from 135 million to 265 million, because of the deep world recession. Without these resources from the IMF, possibly millions of people will die.
These resources from the IMF are not loans, no one has to pay them back, but they will help save lives also by helping countries avoid worsening economic crises, and by having the resources to stop or slow the spread of COVID-19.
The organizations supporting the amendment wrote:
On behalf of the tens of millions of Americans our organizations represent, we thank Speaker Pelosi; Chairs Waters, Lowey, Engel and McGovern; and their colleagues, for the House’s passage of the no-cost global COVID-19 response (Garcia-Durbin amendment) on Friday. Their support for global debt relief and special drawing rights ? emergency financial resources ? will help boost the U.S. economy, help countries combat COVID-19, and build on a record of success ? without costing taxpayers a penny. We ask them to stand firm and fight for the inclusion of this no-cost legislation in the next COVID relief package to help the hundreds of millions of people worldwide who are at risk due to surges in hunger, poverty and disease.
- Action Corps
- Africa Faith and Justice Network
- American Friends Service Committee
- Amnesty International USA
- Center for Economic and Policy Research
- Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America
- Concerned Citizens for Change
- Demand Progress
- Freedom Forward
- Justice is Global
- Leadership Conference of Women Religious
- Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
- Massachusetts Peace Action
- Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
- Oxfam America
- Peace Action New York State
- Presbyterian Church (USA)
- The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
- WESPAC Foundation
- Win Without War
- Women Against War
Spokespersons from various organizations offered additional praise for the amendment:
“I am delighted to see the passage of the Waters/Garcia amendment for no-cost global COVID relief. The Senate should include these measures for debt relief and emergency financial resources in this next COVID relief package ? along with humanitarian assistance. This innovative and noncontroversial solution will help countries prevent the spread of COVID and resulting hunger ? without costing U.S. taxpayers a single penny.”— Mark Harrison, Peace with Justice Program Director, United Methodist General Board of Church and Society
“As an African-American, COVID has disproportionately impacted my community. Internationally, when we look at countries that are, as the Bible says, ‘the least of these,’ our faith calls us to act. I call on senators to co-sponsor the Durbin bill for a global response to COVID.” — Edith Guffey, Conference Minister, Kansas-Oklahoma Conference, United Church of Christ
“The U.S. Congress must show compassion and help save lives globally at $0 cost to the U.S. taxpayers. The issuance of special drawing rights at the IMF will help countries globally to protect their people from COVID-19, hunger, and economic devastation. Like many globally, African countries need these resources to survive COVID-19 and its economic downturn. It is our moral obligation to show compassion and save lives.” — Dr. Pauline Muchina, Policy, Education and Advocacy Coordinator for Africa, American Friends Service Committee
“This bill is concrete amid a crisis, helpful for poor countries and costless for the U.S. taxpayer; funds would quickly reach low- and middle-income countries to fight the pandemic and its economic consequences.” — Andrés Arauz, Senior Research Fellow, Center for Economic and Policy Research
“Now more than ever, debt means death. Maryknoll missioners see this in poor countries like Kenya and Ecuador where governments spend more on servicing debt than on health care. As the coronavirus hits, people fear unemployment and hunger as much as getting sick. If we don’t do what we can to shore up the global economy, we could see millions of people around the world destitute and dying. We will all suffer because our economies are connected and this virus knows no borders. The House legislation, and its companion in the Senate, the Support for Global Financial Institution Pandemic Response Act, recognize these facts and that Special Drawing Rights were created for this kind of emergency. Just as the United States supported the IMF allocating SDRs in the financial crisis in 2009, it should support it now.” — Susan Gunn, Director, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
“As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc in Latin America, South Asia and Africa, we need a global response to the global economic crisis. A major allocation of Special Drawing Rights by the IMF is a critical complement to more debt relief and more aid.” — Didier Jacobs, Senior Policy Advisor, Oxfam America
“We applaud the House of Representatives in passing this life-saving legislation. If enacted, it will help developing countries buy PPE, medicine and other U.S. exports. This will save lives around the world and boost the economy here at home. The Congressional Budget Office has confirmed this bill will have a $0 cost to the U.S. The Senate should include this in the next COVID package.” — Isaac Evans-Frantz, Director, Action Corps