MDG Health Alliance Vice-Chair John Megrue was invited by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to testify on Capitol Hill on March 26 before the Senate State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs subcommittee during a hearing on diplomacy, development and national security.
The purpose of the hearing was to discuss the impact and value of the “150 account,” the budget line of approximately $50B that covers foreign assistance and state department operations overseas. Senator Graham noted that, contrary to popular belief, this budget line item accounts for well below 1% of the total budget of the United States Government. As the witnesses shared, and as we know firsthand, it has had a tremendous impact on the lives of others abroad and our national security at home. This hearing came at an opportune time, just hours before the Senate was scheduled to vote on Senator Rand Paul’s proposed 50% cut to the U.S. foreign assistance budget.
John joined a panel of distinguished colleagues and philanthropists, including:
- Bill Gates, Co-Chair, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Ben Affleck, Actor, and Co-Founder, Eastern Congo Initiative
- Admiral James Stavridis, Former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO
- Scott Ford, CEO of Westrock Group, LLC and Former Chief Executive Officer, Alltel Corporation
The panelists talked about their work in Africa and how they have leveraged U.S. investments to support substantial gains in health and economic development. John gave testimony to importance of foreign aid as seen by our team on the ground, and closed his comments by saying that with continued investment from the U.S. government and the private sector, we will eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and that, “now is not the time to blink.” Having a generation born free will be one of the great global health accomplishments by the US government and this generation.
After the hearing, the panelists had the opportunity to meet with approximately 30 Senators in small groups to further make the case for why investing in foreign assistance is a highly leveraged investment that the U.S. government should continue to make. Just shortly after these meetings, the Senate voted down Senator Paul’s proposed budget cut with one of the largest margins ever seen as 96 Senators voted against the Paul amendment.