Thanks to tremendous grassroots efforts and skillful advocacy, anti-debt campaigners in the United States had something to celebrate as Congress moved toward adjournment this fall. A coalition that brought to the halls of Congress not only Bono of U2 but also "every missionary in the world," in the words of Rep. Sonny Callahan, convinced legislators to appropriate money needed for the United States to begin doing its share toward debt relief for some of the world's most impoverished countries.
Considering that only two years ago Congress had little or no interest in this issue, the appropriation is nothing short of a miracle. There is much more to be done to address the debt crisis and create a just global economy, of course, but for now proponents of Jubilee are "glad indeed."
Jubilee 2000 and its allies essentially prevailed on all major items:
- Congress appropriated $435 million for cancellation of bilateral debt owed to the United States by highly indebted low-income countries, and authorized the International Monetary Fund to revalue its gold stocks to fund multilateral debt reduction.
Jubilee 2000 and other advocates worked for this funding all year, and many times it looked like they would come away with little to show. A July 13 amendment by Rep. Maxine Waters that brought House funding up to roughly $225 million passed by five votes. Senate funding lagged far behind, at $75 million. In the end debt relief advocates won the full amount requested by the Clinton administration for this fiscal year, as well as last year's previously unfunded request. Rep. Waters and other congressional allies credited the grassroots Jubilee 2000 campaign for keeping the heat on Congress.