President George W. Bush signed the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act into law Dec. 2. The legislation will help decrease global poverty, illness and death by providing people in developing countries with access to safe drinking water, and, wherever possible, ownership of such water projects.
Named for the late Illinois Sen. Paul Simon, who fought for aid to developing nations, the act makes safe water a priority for U.S. foreign aid. Simon was a Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod member, and the bill received strong Lutheran support.
Among its more than 100 co-sponsors were ELCA members Lois Capps, D-Calif.; Darlene Hooley, D-Ore.; Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif.; LCMS member John Shimkus, R-Ill.; and Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod member Rob Kind, D-Wis.
“If people care about safe drinking water, we need to also be concerned about meeting the Millennium Development Goals, which call for cutting in half by 2015 the number of people in the world who don’t have clean water and sanitation,” says Jim Vigen of the Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs in Washington, D.C. (See related story, "Church leaders seek funding for poor countries")
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