by Greg Williams
Jubilee USA honored House Financial Services Committee Chairman Emeritus Spencer Bachus (R-AL) at a November 10 evening event in the US Capitol. Bachus was a key architect of bipartisan legislation and policies that resulted in international debt relief that has been used to improve living conditions and promote civil stability in poor countries.
"Spencer Bachus saw an opportunity to make the financial system work better for even the poorest of people," stated Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA, the group that organized the event. "Across Africa, millions of kids are in school and millions more are alive because of his efforts."
Bachus played a key role in passing landmark legislation supporting the Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative and Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative. These global efforts reduced or cancelled debts that had often been incurred by former dictators who squandered the original loans. Countries were subsequently able to invest in better health care and education for their citizens so long as they met new international accountability standards.
The World Bank reports that infant mortality rates declined in every country that received debt relief. World Bank President Jim Kim noted in 2014 that the Jubilee debt relief initiative was one of the two most important factors fueling unexpected economic growth in Africa. The rock star Bono said, "As a result of debt relief, there are millions of children attending schools today, there are millions of children who have received vaccinations."
In introducing Mr. Bachus at the event, David Beckmann, President of the Christian anti-hunger group Bread for the World, said, "His leadership forges alliances, alliances that were essential to advancing policies that end hunger and reduce poverty."
Rep. Bachus retired at the end of his term in 2014, completing a 22 year record of service in the U.S. House. His colleagues named him Chairman Emeritus of the House Financial Services Committee, where he served a six-year leadership term that included his Chairmanship from 2011-2012.
Read more about the event honoring Chairman Spencer Bachus
Read Chairman Bachus' speech on the floor of Congress calling for debt relief for poor countries