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US Congress

The Millennium Water Alliance is one of the principal WASH advocates today before the U. S. Congress.

We work very closely with our 15 member NGOs and others in the broader WASH community, to educate members of Congress on WASH issues, and to stress the need for U.S. leadership.

MWA brings years of high-level experience in lobbying to the WASH sector. We participate in creating legislative strategy, developing the public message, and monitoring and analyzing developments in the field to help Congress make informed decisions.

Our Major Successes Include:

The Dramatic Passage of The Sen. Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-289).  

This long-sought legislation was introduced as H.R. 2901 in the House of Representatives in August 2013 by Reps. Earl Blumenauer ( D-OR) and Ted Poe (R-TX), to amend the landmark Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-121) that established WASH as a priority for USAID. Through a long  and challenging process, our House champions achieved success in late 2014 with unanimous approval by the House.

Our longtime Senate champions, Deputy Majority Leader Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN),then led the bill through an extraordinary chain of events (including an intense debate in the Foreign Relations Committee about using the the bill as a vehicle to bring the issue of force in Iraq to a vote on the Senate floor!). After that, our  Senate supporters had to break an arbitrary “hold” on the bill by one Senator, for reasons having nothing to do with the issue, to release it for a vote on the floor in the final days of the 113th Congress. When it was approved by the Senate, the bill went to President Barack Obama, who signed it into law on December 19, 2014.

Significant  Increases in WASH Funding by Congress Over the Years

MWA works hard every year to sustain funding for WASH  under the Water for the Poor Act (as amended by the Water for the World Act). We work directly with WASH supporters in the  House and Senate Appropriations Committees to ensure that WASH maintains at least level funding, and when possible, is increased by Congress in the difficult process of budget, appropriations, and reconciliation. 

Congress has enacted gradual WASH increases in most of the years since 2006, and especially significant increases in Fiscal Years 2013, 2014, and 2015. For FY 2017, despite cuts in many areas of foreign assistance, Congress held WASH at level funding ($400 million), and as of July 2017, seems on track to continue that level for FY 2018.

MWA supports the entire International Affairs Section 150 Function  of the federal budget – not WASH alone. We advocate for continued or increased funding for the programs of USAID, the State Department, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and US participation in many multilateral and international organizations. We believe US leadership in broad development and humanitarian assistance  – not just limited to WASH – is critical. We know that WASH development works best when  done in coordination with other development sectors, and we believe USAID must improve its sectoral integration and strategic approaches to development.

 


 

What The Water for the World Act of 2014 Did

In 2005, The Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act (Public Law 109-121) was signed into law, making safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) a US foreign policy priority. In the years since, USAID (the United States Agency for International Development) and the US Department of State have improved millions of lives by helping to provide WASH services, and have worked with other governments to increase efforts to move toward meeting every human being’s right to safe drinking water and safe sanitation.

Nearly 10 years later, The Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2014 refined and improved the law, strengthened accountability for WASH programs already underway, codified senior positions of overall water coordinators at USAID and State, and clarified criteria for priority countries. The Water for the World Act:

 

  • Ratifies the existing capacity in the U.S. government to ensure WASH remains a policy priority, and that expertise is available at USAID and State Department headquarters, and in country-level USAID missions, to guide implementation of effective and sustainable WASH programs;

  • Sharpens the criteria for choosing high-priority countries to ensure that limited funds are directed to the countries and communities most in need, recognizing evidence that the poorest people benefit most from receiving WASH services;

  • Increases integration of WASH programs with other critical interventions, including child survival, global health, food security and nutrition, and gender equality, to increase their efficiency and impact;

  • Advances best practices of effective aid, such as improved monitoring and evaluation and a focus on leveraging non-Federal partnerships and funds;

  • Improves the strategic approach to international safe water, sanitation and hygiene, and to water resource management, by providing guidance that builds on USAID’s own five-year Water and Development Strategy (launched May 2013), such as by requiring transparency in country priorities, the results of field programs, and regular reviews of progress using recognized metrics.

 

To see the full text of HR 2901, click here.

 

Posted July 2017

 

Check the Advocacy News section on this site for most recent updates!


 

How We Do Advocacy… 

For MWA members, we:

  • Monitor pending and possible  legislative activities that affect not only WASH specifically, but also international development generally.
  • Prepare field alerts, analysis, and letters to key members of Congress.
  • Assist our members to develop information for, and to speak to, Congress – wherever their board members, staffs, and donors are across the US, they have a constituent relationship to Congress.
  • When our members can participate in policy decisions, they do; when they cannot, MWA is authorized to represent our members in legislation affecting WASH issues.
  • Keep our members informed about activities within the broader WASH community that may affect public policy.

 

For the WASH community in the US and abroad:

  • MWA plays a leading role in working with others  to create effective strategy and share information, helping the community speak with a united voice.
  • We work with other organizations to create and implement effective coalition advocacy; at this time, the most active group on legislation includes MWA, CARE (an MWA member), WaterAid America (an MWA member) and World Vision (an MWA member) – and we also work extensively with the broader WASH coalition.
  • We represent WASH concerns to the entire US-based international development community, and strive to forge common approaches wherever possible.