There was some closure over the weekend. On Friday, President Bush signed into law the emergency spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan. EPIC began preparing for battles related to the emergency spending bill back in November.
By late January, Congress received the President's initial request for emergency spending. While including nearly $100 billion for U.S. military spending, it only included $30 million to help Iraq's war refugees and $50 million for Iraqi-led development. In comparison to previous spending bills, the President's request represented a substantial cut in U.S. aid to Iraq.
In February, we helped form the Iraq Peace and Development Working Group (IPDWG), a community of more than 40 national organizations working to reduce suffering and conflict in Iraq. EPIC cochairs the working group with NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, and active members include Amnesty International, Mercy Corps and Refugees International. Together, we've been working to:
- Help 2 million Iraqi refugees who have fled their country and another 1.9 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) who remain inside Iraq;
- Fully restore USAID’s Community Action Program (CAP), a successful NGO-implemented effort delivering assistance directly to Iraqis rebuilding their own communities; and
- Support the Marla Ruzicka Iraqi War Victims Fund (Marla Fund), assisting innocent civilians harmed in the conflict and the families of those killed in Iraq.
Now, we're gearing up for FY 2008 appropriations, preparing to fight for a more sustainable U.S. policy than emergency supplemental bills and ad hoc policies. Be sure to check back here for regular updates on our progress. To find out how you can make a difference right now, visit EPIC's website and add your voice to our ongoing advocacy initiatives.