At UD, Coons urges 'common ground' on poverty relief
Published: Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 15:04
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) visited campus Tuesday night to show support for students involved in the ONE campaign, a national effort dedicated to fighting poverty and preventable disease in Africa and other areas.
Coons, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, highlighted a panel organized by the university's ONE chapter that discussed global poverty awareness and the United States' foreign aid.
Coons said America's power rests in its values, and U.S. leaders have the ability to use diplomacy, in accordance with their values, to encourage development abroad.
Part of the ONE campaign's mission is to encourage political leaders to support ending poverty and disease abroad, and Coons said he had seen both Republican and Democratic senators rally around the cause of poverty in Africa.
"We are able to find bipartisanship around our shared cause," Coons said. "It is an opportunity for all of us to find common ground."
He said the main challenge that prevents some American politicians from agreeing on foreign aid is their approach to the federal budget.
He discussed the contrast between the large defense budget and the amount of money allocated to foreign aid, which comprises approximately 1 percent of the federal budget. Coons said he would like to address the issues of the budget for foreign aid over the next 18 months.
Kim Zimmerman, the assistant director of U.S. government relations at the ONE Campaign, also served on the panel and discussed the organization's relationship with Coons.
She said ONE tries to bring the most relevant information concerning poverty and disease to Coons' attention, while also providing possible solutions.
"ONE is about advocacy," Zimmerman said. "What we do is make sure that issues of importance to the poorest people in the world are not forgotten."
She said members of ONE appreciate Coons' and the African subcommittee's support, and she believes with Coons' help, ONE will be able to implement positive changes in foreign aid relief.
Coons said ONE representatives tried to get his attention during his senatorial campaign, and he called their efforts "charmingly persistent."
"Your voice matters," said Coons. "It doesn't take a huge checkbook—you can actually attract the attention of a U.S. senator with T-shirts."