Reps. García, Schakowsky and Takano Introduce the Robust International Response to Pandemic Act to Support Needed Assistance from IMF, World Bank

April 21, 2020
Press Release

Washington, DC - Today Representatives Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) and Mark Takano (CA-41) introduced the Robust International Response to Pandemic Act. The bill directs United States representatives to multilateral development banks like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help developing countries as they fight COVID-19.

Public health experts expect the number of cases of COVID-19 to increase dramatically in developing countries that often have weak healthcare systems and are burdened by severe financial constraints. Governments around the world, economists and global leaders support tools like Special Drawing rights, but the U.S. has an effective veto over many IMF and World Bank policies due to the voting structures of these institutions. Congress should do everything in its power to ensure that each country has what it needs to fight this virus.

“Even after the coronavirus pandemic passes, hundreds of millions of people around the world will slide into poverty due to the economic fallout of this virus if we don’t act. We need a bold and proactive response to COVID-19 that supports our hardest hit communities, and Congress should support an international response that prevents us from sliding into a long global depression,” said Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García. “In order to be prepared for any future health crises, the United States must throw its support behind measures that will permit a recovery for everyone.” 

“We are facing a global health crisis unlike any we have seen in recent history. COVID-19 is attacking our loved ones, upending people’s lives all over the world, and shaking our communities to their core. Such a devastating global event calls for a united and robust global response,” said Representative Schakowsky. “We need bold initiatives like the Robust International Response to Pandemic Act to ensure that developing countries can get the help they need from our International Financial Institutions to end this pandemic and address the vast social and economic consequences that will be left in its wake.”

“Mitigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic requires a robust national response and careful cooperation with members of the international community,” said Rep. Mark Takano. “The spread of this virus knows no borders and it is crucial for developing countries to have access to the support they need from international financial institutions in order to respond to the effects of this pandemic. This legislation will help ensure that the United States advocates on behalf of developing countries that are struggling to battle COVID-19, thereby bolstering the global response to this crisis.”

The Robust International Response to Pandemic Act calls for:

  • A suspension of debt payments to international financial institutions during COVID-19;
  • Opposition to programs or loan agreements that could reduce countries’ health care budgets as they fight the virus;
  • Issuance of three trillion “Special Drawing Rights” (SDRs) by the IMF, a currency support tool that helps developing countries avoid draining their reserves in times of crisis.

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