U.S $1 Billion for Emergency Aid and Famine Relief Including for -- South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen

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South Sudan's Ugandan-backed dictator Salva Kiir -- widely blamed and denounced for man-made famine in the country

U.S. Representatives Karen Bass and Barbara Lee have praised the inclusion of nearly $1 billion for emergency and famine relief for select African countries in the $1.163 trillion slated for funding the U.S. government for the rest of the year.

Known as an omnibus bill --because it's not a regular appropriation bill -- it's expected to be acted on by both the House of Representatives and the Senate this week.  The text of the bill was published on early Monday morning.

Earlier, Rep. Bass (D-Calif.) had introduced House Resolution 187 to fight famine in South Sudan. The relief funding in the omnibus bill will additionally cover Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen. 

“Since the introduction of this legislation, people have starved to death in South Sudan who did not have to die, but succumbed to a famine caused by man. But this is also a famine that can be ended by man,” Rep. Bass said. “I’m proud of this body and of this chamber for putting partisanship aside to address this critical situation and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to find solutions to avoid these crises in the future, but waiting for famine to be declared is waiting too long. We have the ability and the resources to end famine now and we have the moral obligation to do it.”

“As a senior appropriator who helped lead the bipartisan effort to address the global food crisis, I applaud the inclusion of nearly $1 billion for famine relief in the FY2017 Omnibus bill," Rep. Lee, (D-Calif.) said. "House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, ranking member Nita Lowey, Congressmember Karen Bass, Congressman Tom Rooney, the Congressional Black Caucus, and congressional staff played an instrumental role in ensuring this bipartisan priority received funding. With 20 million people on the brink of starvation, there’s no question that this money will save lives."

She added: “However, this funding alone will not bring peace and economic stability to the four nations currently affected by famine. In the coming months, Congress must also do more to address the underlying conflicts that led to this crisis and show that our commitment to humanitarian assistance is unwavering.”

The $1.163 trillion spending for fiscal 2017 covers base spending and overseas contingency operations with $990 million in emergency famine relief.

An omnibus spending bill packages many of the smaller regular appropriations bills into one larger single bill that could be passed with only one vote in each house.

Congress must pass bills that appropriate money for all discretionary government spending every year. Usually, one bill is passed for each sub-committee of the twelve subcommittees in the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations and the 12 subcommittees in the Senate Committee on Appropriations. When Congress can't or doesn't pass these bills on time,  it can roll several separate appropriations bills into one omnibus bill.


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