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Rep. Smith Takes Up Obama's Anti-Poverty Effort

By Chris Kissel May 27, 2009

Last week, Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA,9) was standing up for second amendment nuts, helping bring the right to carry a gun into a national park all the way to the President's desk. Needless to say, it wasn't hard for him to find an ally in the GOP, even in our delegation--Smith teamed up with Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA,4), who wrote the original bill.

But this week, Smith introduced a bill most Republicans wouldn't touch in a million years: "The Global Poverty Act of 2009," a rehash of a bill originally sponsored by then-Senator Barack Obama in 2007. The bill requires the President to make the reduction of global poverty "a priority" and mandates he make presentation to Congress once a year on ways the State Department has attempted to implement a poverty strategy.

Obama's bill made it through the House but never received a vote in the Senate. Supporters were pessimistic in 2007 about the odds of President Bush signing the bill into law because of GOP-voiced concerns over an irresponsible increase in foreign aid.

Smith, who chairs the Armed Forces Terrorism subcommittee in the House, addressed detractors in a statement last week. "It's more than just a moral problem that billions of people around the world are struggling to survive. It is also in our national security interests that we reduce global poverty," he said in a statement. "Populations that struggle in extreme poverty are more likely to become mired in destabilizing conflicts, or worse, become havens or recruiting grounds for terrorist organizations."

Because the bill doesn't make any financial commitments, it's likely that the measure, which has already passed by voice vote in the House, will continue sailing through Congress and receive the President Obama's signature by the end of the session.

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