Greenheart staff traveled to Washington, D.C. last week to participate in Advocacy Day, an annual event put on by the Alliance for International Exchange. They joined 134 participants from 35 organizations in meetings with 116 congressional offices that represent 30 states and the District of Columbia.
These meetings are an important way for the cultural exchange community to maintain relationships with members of Congress and stay involved in the legislative process. It’s also a great way to reconnect with colleagues from organizations all over the United States
What We Talked About
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, international exchanges received one of the highest funding levels seen in years, at $634.1 million. FY 2018 has seen a continued resolution that has kept funding levels the same, but now we’re looking towards FY 2019.
At our meetings, we asked that members of Congress support a continued budget of $634.1 million, or the highest possible level of funding for international exchanges in FY 2019.
In the House, we asked members to sign onto a Dear Colleague letter circulated by Representative Hank Johnson (D-GA 4th District). This letter is written in support of the Department of State Educational & Cultural Exchange Programs and asks that the House Appropriations Committee fund these vital programs at the highest funding level possible in FY 2019. As of March 13, 2018, the letter has 65 signers and is bipartisan, with both Democrats and Republicans signing on.
In the Senate, we notified members that a Dear Colleague letter would be circulating soon that they will be able to sign and that will echo the sentiments of the House letter. We look forward to a similar showing of support!
In both houses of Congress, we asked that members continue to support and protect U.S. Department of State J-1 exchange programs against any harm imposed via recent or future executive actions. In light of reports about the Administration’s efforts to eliminate or significantly cut programs last year, the support of Congress is more important than ever.
International Exchange and Study Caucus
One of the ways that we asked members of the House to champion cultural exchanges in Congress was by asking them to join the International Exchange and Study Caucus. The Caucus’ goal is to raise awareness of the importance and benefits of international exchange and study programs in the United States and around the world.
Greenheart staff met with the following offices and shared our requests.
- Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI 2nd District)
- Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
- Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI)
- Representative Charlie Dent (R-PA 15th District)
- Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA)
Each of the offices expressed their wholehearted and continued support of cultural exchanges!
You can continue the work that began at Advocacy Day! American citizens may follow this link to write to representatives and ask that they protect exchange programs.
We also encourage you to visit our Advocacy page and use our Advocacy Ezine as a resource to contact your Members of Congress. Share your stories with them, encourage them to sign onto Dear Colleague letters, or ask them to join the International Exchange and Study Caucus. Every little bit counts!