USGLC Liz Schrayer: military + business leaders speak out

With all eyes on the Russia-Ukraine border, I wanted to share a few items you might not have seen in the latest headlines.
In the last week, military and business leaders each sent powerful letters to Capitol Hill outlining the escalating threats and risks to American families if we fail to stem the global pandemic and address the humanitarian crises. They specifically call for new emergency resources for the global response for COVID-19 and raise the costs of inaction for our own security and economic interests here at home.I was taken by the response we’ve seen from policymakers from both sides of the aisle who appreciated these expert voices, especially given the stakes with low vaccination rates in the developing world and ongoing Omicron surges overseas, despite the improving news here at home.

As the debates in Washington continue, our work at USGLC presses forward on the imperative for a smart global response from the U.S. and our partners and allies.

Here’s the latest:

MILITARY LEADERS SPEAK OUT – Taking their message to Congress, 13 former Combatant Commanders – including Admiral James Stavridis and Generals Anthony ZinniDavid Petraeus and Joseph Votel – just called for new resources to combat the growing threats being multiplied by the global pandemic:

  • “[W]e believe the ongoing threat to our national security from the global pandemic and its destabilizing impacts remains grave.”
  • “Failure to address the continued global spread of COVID-19 directly impacts the health and security of Americans. That is why it is imperative that our nation matches the scale of this threat with additional targeted resources for the global COVID-19 response.”

BUSINESS LEADERS ADD IN – This week, 16 high-level business leaders sent a powerful message to Capitol Hill on the urgency to confront the domestic economic risks of COVID-19 by supporting a global response to the pandemic and its humanitarian impacts. Leaders from UPS alongside Cargill, Citigroup, Google, Johnson & Johnson, Land O’Lakes, Loews, Procter & Gamble, and many others told Congress:

  • “From the massive delays in global supply chains to increasing conflict, hunger, and migration, COVID-19 has become the ultimate global disrupter with lasting consequences for our nation’s economic wellbeing.”
  • “With vaccine rates still in the single digits in dozens of low- and middle-income countries, we believe that if the U.S. does not get this right… the economic costs for our own nation will only increase in the coming days and months.”

WHAT’S HAPPENING – As lawmakers push forward on final negotiations on Fiscal Year 2022,USAID’s GLOBAL VAX initiative is showing serious results in some of the hardest to reach places around the world. As you may have read, there is a lot of discussion about the growing global needs for an additional emergency package with resources running out.

  • USAID Chief Samantha Power on the growing impact overseas: “Incredible: in just a few weeks, Uganda’s #COVID19 vaccination rate JUMPED from 14% ➡ 47%. This sort of success is not easy, even w/ vaccine availability increasing. But w/ @USAID support, the government rolled out a comprehensive mass vaccination campaign w/ tremendous results.”
  • But… POLITICO’s Erin Banco reports this week: “Without additional cash, the Biden administration could fall behind in its 2022 Covid-19 goal of getting shots into arms… to boost inoculations in the 30 countries with vaccination rates below 10 percent… [USAID] has told lawmakers that it needs $19 billion in additional funding for 2022.”
  • On a potential emergency package from the Administration, Senate Appropriator Roy Blunt (R-MO) told reporters: “…frankly, in the categories they are asking for money, the other money has all been spent or committed.”
  • Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), who is organizing a group of House lawmakers on upping the U.S. global response: “The amount of money that we want to allocate for this is so modest, compared to the trillions and trillions of dollars that we are spending taking care of our economic and physical health as a country.”

Given the state of the world, much more to update on soon.


Liz Schrayer, USGLC

P.S. If you want to take a deeper dive on one of the really challenging issues, watch this Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing with USGLC Board Member David Miliband, President of IRC, on the debate about unfreezing Afghanistan assets given the dire humanitarian crises. It’s another window into these complex global needs.

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