Action Item: Starving Somalians Need A Moment of Your Time… Tonight [Updated!]

Please help.

Tomorrow, the Senate Appropriations Committee is going to vote on the Agriculture Appropriations Bill which the House of Representatives passed in June, and which cuts emergency food funds by 75% from their 2008 levels.  13 million people are affected by the current  famine in the Horn of Africa, and House Republicans voted to provide less aid.  This is unconscionable.

From the World Food Program:

Drought in the Horn of Africa, combined with conflict and high food prices in Somalia, has contributed to a humanitarian crisis affecting 13 million people in the region. Conditions in southern Somalia have deteriorated to the point that famine has been declared. Furthermore, millions of children are suffering from undernutrition; these nutrient deficiencies impair mental and physical development in children and can result in lifelong health problems.


In light of this crisis, the U.S. government has emerged as one of the largest donors of humanitarian assistance to the region, providing about $459 million this fiscal year to help refugees, families affected by drought and strength food security in the region. Last week, the U.S. announced it is providing an additional $21 million contribution to WFP’s work in Somalia. U.S. assistance has also gone beyond immediate needs to support programs that build regional capacity to handle future droughts through investments in programs like Feed the Future.

Despite the importance of U.S. emergency assistance to save lives when disasters strike, several the House of Representatives has recently proposed drastic cuts to American humanitarian assistance. The House passed an Agricultural Appropriations Bill that cut emergency food assistance by 75 percent from 2008 levels. In the subcommittee mark up of the House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, the account that funds emergency food assistance was cut by 12 percent.

Representatives James McGovern, Rosa DeLauro, and Jan Schakowsky criticized these cuts from the House floor last Thursday. In his speech, Rep. McGovern explained that, “the current crisis, terrible as it is, could have been much worse. There is good news amongst so much tragedy. The last time a drought of this magnitude hit Ethiopia, over 14 million people faced starvation. This time, about 4.5 million Ethiopians are in need of emergency aid. The difference? Since 2005, the United States and other donors have made significant investments in Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program.

I saw first-hand several of these programs in 2007. They help small farmers and poor communities diversify the crops they planted, broaden their sources of income, create local markets, better manage their water resources, and increase the nutritional content of their own diets and those of their children. This has enabled over 7.5 million Ethiopians to withstand the worst effects of the current drought. These families and communities are NOT part of the 4.5 million Ethiopians who require urgent humanitarian aid.”

If you live in any of the following districts, please call your Senator. Better yet, fax a letter. That’s what I’m about to do. (Click through to The Last Word blog for a link to the email addresses for the Senators listed below.  The links are current inactive — I will add the links below, but it will take some time.)

Democratic Members:

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (Chairman), Hawaii – Email or call at (202) 224.3934 or fax at (202) 224-6747
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont – Email or call at (202) 224-4242
Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa – Email or call at (202) 224-3254 or fax at (202) 224-9369
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland – Email or call at (202) 224-4654 or fax at (410) 962-4760
Sen. Herb Kohl, Wisconsin – Email or call at (202) 224-5653 or fax at (202) 224-9787
Sen. Patty Murray, Washington – Email or call at (202) 224-2621 or fax at (202) 224-0238
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California – Email or call at (202) 224-3841 or fax at (202) 228-3954
Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois – Email or call at (202) 224-2152
Sen. Tim Johnson, South Dakota – Email or call at (202) 224-5842
Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana – Email or call at (202) 224-5824
Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island – Email or call at (202) 224-4642 or fax at (202) 224-4680
Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, New Jersey – Email or call at (202) 224-3224
Sen. Ben Nelson, Nebraska – Email or call at (202) 224-6551 or fax at 202-228-0012
Sen. Mark Pryor, Arkansas – Email or call at (202) 224-2353 or fax at (202) 228-0908
Sen. Jon Tester, Montana – Email or call at (202) 224-2644 or fax at (202) 224-8594
Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ohio – Email or call at (202) 224-2315 or fax at (202) 228-6321

Republican Members

Sen. Thad Cochran (Vice Chairman), Mississippi – Email or call at (202) 224-5054 or fax at 202-224-9450
Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky – Email or call at (202) 224-2541 or fax at 202-224-2499
Sen. Richard C. Shelby, Alabama – Email or call at (202) 224-5744 or fax at 202-224-3416
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas – Email or call at (202) 224-5922 or fax at 202.224.0776
Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee – Email or call at (202) 224-4944 or fax at 202-228-3398
Sen. Susan Collins, Maine – Email or call at (202) 224-2523 or fax at 202-224-2693
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska – Email or call at (202) 224-6665 or fax at 202-224-5301
Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina – Email or call at (202) 224-5972
Sen. Mark Kirk, Illinois – Email or call at (202) 224-2854 or fax at 202-228-4611
Sen. Dan Coats, Indiana – Email or call at (202) 224-5623 or fax at (202) 228-1820
Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri – Email or call at (202) 224-5721 or fax at 202-224-8149
Sen. Jerry Moran, Kansas – Email or call at (202) 224-6521 or fax at 202-228-6966
Sen. John Hoeven, North Dakota – Email or call at (202) 224-2551 or fax at 202-224-7999
Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin – Email or call at (202) 224-5323 or fax at 202-224-2725

Here’s a template (courtesy of Emily L. Hauser):

Dear Senator ____,

I write to you tonight to urge you to vote against the Agriculture Appropriations Bill passed by the House in June which would cut emergency food funds by 75% from their 2008 levels.

With some 13 million people starving to death in the Horn of Africa – as Senator Frist recently reported, some 30,000 children have died just over the summer – the idea that my nation would vote to shrink our commitment to those in need is simply horrifying.

Please, Senator – do all that you can to stop this bill from being passed into law. Hungry families need us.

Thank you, and thank you for all your years of service,

You can also donate money to help relief efforts in the Horn of Africa. We recommend donating to UNICEF. To do so, simply click here or call 1-800-4UNICEF (1-800-486-4233).

Cheap shot, I know (if you’re like me and this song makes your eyes rain).

But seriously — please help.

[via The Last Word; image via World Food Program]

***If you track down the fax numbers for any of the above Senators, please leave the number in the comments.  I will update this list in order to make it easier for people to contact their Senators.  Thanks!

[cross-posted at ABLC where I will do the link updating, FYI.]

29 replies
  1. 1
    lacp says:

    Their response to a famine threatening millions of people is to cut emergency food aid? What kind of creatures would do that?

  2. 2
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Jack Reed: fax #’s (202) 224-4680 or (401) 528-5242

  3. 3
    beltane says:

    @lacp: God-fearing (they say), family-values, pro-life Christians.

  4. 4
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:


    Generally? Conservatives.

    In Republican Land, there’s nothing better than throwing gas on a fire to put it out.

    It leaves nothing to clean up later, just sweep the ashes aside and build anew.

  5. 5
    Wormtown says:

    Jim McGovern is my Congress Critter. So lucky to have him. I will make sure to contact his office and thank him this.

  6. 6
    The Dangerman says:

    Why wouldn’t this shit be filibustered and sent back to the House with a note saying “Fuck you”?

  7. 7
    Social Outcast says:

    So it’s worth asking your senator for this sort of thing? I’ve been told by so many democrats over the past couple of years that there’s no point in asking the senate for something they don’t want to give out, so why bother even complaining about it, etc.

  8. 8
    handy says:


    Because everyone knows private charity and the Free Market with an extra boost of tax cuts can do a better job than government. It’s in the bible, silly.

  9. 9
    Ogami Itto says:

    @The Dangerman: You think Harry Reid has the balls to do that? I think Pelosi would have the balls, but Reid? Nope.

  10. 10
    Lysana says:

    Ooh, my less-favorite Senator’s on that list (no, not a Feinstein fan, she just continues to be less evil than her opponent every six years).

  11. 11
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Social Outcast:

    Ummm… thems sum damned dum Dems, dats fer sure. It’s probably the same Dems who keep yelling about how Obama failed them again and again, so he needs to be primaried so he learns his lesson.

    These same Dems forget where law originates and that the President isn’t a king or dictator (unless it’s a Republican).

    Quit listening to them, they are so fucking stupid that they think they are geniuses.


    Sometimes that’s all a “Democrat” needs. Unfortunately.

  12. 12
    ciafp says:

    But but if we do that how can we afford tax cuts for millionaires. Priorities doncha know.

  13. 13
    takincandyfrombaby says:

    But but if we do that how can we afford tax cuts for millionaires? Priorities doncha know.

  14. 14
    MazeDancer says:

    Here are the Democrats. Except Leahy who posts no fax numbers on his site.

    Innuoye – Fax: (202) 224.6747
    Harkin – Fax: 202-224-9369
    Mikulski – Fax in Baltimore office Fax (410) 962 – 4760
    Kohl – Fax: (202) 224-9787
    Murray – Fax: (202) 224-0238
    Feinstein – Fax: (202) 228-3954
    Durbin – Fax: (202) 228-0400
    Johnson – Fax: (202) 228-5765
    Landrieu – Fax: (202) 224-9735
    Reed – Fax: (202) 224-4680
    Launtenberg – Fax: (202) 228-4054
    Nelson (Nebraska) – Fax: 202-228-0012
    Pryor – Fax: (202) 228-0908
    Testor – Fax: (202) 224-8594
    Brown (Ohio) – Fax: (202) 228-6321

  15. 15
    Anya says:

    Since the famine is man made, the only thing that will solve the problem is a political solution. According to the President of Médecins Sans Frontières aid cannot get to the worst affected areas because of the armed factions.

  16. 16
    El Tiburon says:

    Quick – Pass that HUNDRED GAZILLION BILLION DOLLARS for more war. Because it’s the humane thing to do.

    -Say cuz, how about the starving children across the planet?
    -They got oil?
    -They white?
    -Then fuck ’em and feed ’em fisheads. No, scratch the fisheads. Just fuck ’em.

    As a species we kind of suck a lot.

  17. 17
  18. 18
    MazeDancer says:

    Here are the Republicans. Which I got from a nicely done site set up for Conservatives to use. Click to email links even. Won’t link the site, even though, of course, they want to help starving families, but they might not prefer incoming clicks from Balloon-Juice.

    Went first to GOS because thought they might have a Contact-o-pedia, but didn’t find one.

    Cochran – Fax: 202-224-9450
    McConnell – Fax: 202-224-2499
    Shelby – Fax: 202-224-3416
    Hutchison – Fax: 202-224-0776
    Alexander – Fax: 202-228-3398
    Collins – Fax: 202-224-2693
    Murkowski – Fax: 202-224-5301
    Kirk – Fax: 202-228-4611
    Coats – Fax: (202) 228-1820
    Blunt – Fax: 202-224-8149
    Moran – Fax: 202-228-6966
    Hoeven – Fax: 202-224-7999
    Johnson – Fax: 202-224-2725

  19. 19
    YellowJournalism says:

    Anya, I just heard an interview with a Canadian rep about that very subject. She said that earmarked money just basically sits waiting for a chance to get through the political obstacles.

  20. 20
    Mary Jane says:

    Thanks so much for this, ABL. The suffering, especially that of the babies and children, absolutely breaks my heart. I donated more than I can really afford to UNICEF and bought some items from its store, even knowing that my contribution is like a drop in the ocean.

    I recently made the mistake of reading some comments to an online article. One after another, the gist was they hoped the ni**ers died a slow and agonizing death. I actually wept, and I’m not a crier. Makes me almost wish there really will be a judgment day.

  21. 21
    Caz says:

    We ought to be providing NO aid! We have enough problems here at home, so any money the govt is going to steal from hard working Americans and give away to the needy should be given to the needy in America. There are impoverished in every nation, but it seems like America is the only country that is supposed to give its money away to everyone else. Where is the U.N.?

    If it were up to me, I’d suspend all foreign aid to all countries. Yes, Israel too.

    And remember, it’s not charity if the govt is stealing it from us and giving it away to others. We ought to be keeping that money within our borders.

  22. 22
    Constance says:

    @lacp: Their response to a famine threatening millions of people is to cut emergency food aid? What kind of creatures would do that?
    Republicans and/or Teahadists.

    @ABL None of the folks on the list are mine but I will phone Harry Reid’s office tomorrow and ask what I can do to help this along.

    And damnit you did make my eyes rain.

  23. 23
    Constance says:


    Excuse me. Take it away from Israel if you must (since I think what we give them is mostly weapons) but how about the Koch brothers and their friends pay some fucking taxes and we can help our own and others. Get a grip.

  24. 24
    Caz says:

    I think everyone should pay taxes. We ought to simplify the tax code and get rid of all the loopholes and exemptions. Thirty percent should mean thirty percent.

    But my point is that our money should stay within our borders, especially with the dire financial straits we are in these days. I’m sure there are millions of needy Americans that could benefit from the money we are giving away to other countries, which provides no benefit to our nation at all.

  25. 25

    @Caz: So, you fall into the “let the nigras starve” camp? Nice to know.

  26. 26
    Yutsano says:


    I think everyone should pay taxes.

    You’re more believable when you don’t blatantly lie.

  27. 27
    ABL says:

    @MazeDancer: awesome. thanks a bunch!

  28. 28
    Ash Can says:


    What kind of creatures would do that?

    For them, nonwhite people dying = feature, not bug. Or, see Caz above.

  29. 29
    daveNYC says:

    @Comrade Kevin: I’m not sure he’d limit it to just the heavily tanned starving.

Comments are closed.