July 7, 2020 | Letter to Members of Congress regarding H.R.6581

Over 100 organizations, including Freedom Forward, are advocating for Congress to co-sponsor the Robust International Response to Pandemic Act (H.R.6581), which will ensure that developing countries will be supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international financial institutions with the resources they need to confront the Coronavirus crisis.

Text below: (PDF here)

Dear Representative:

As COVID-19 triggers public health and economic crises in countries around the world, we, the undersigned organizations, urge you to co-sponsor the Robust International Response to Pandemic Act (H.R.6581), introduced by Representatives Jesus “Chuy” García, Jan Schakowsky, Mark Takano, and 13 other original co-sponsors. We believe Congress must enact H.R.6581 as part of forthcoming coronavirus legislation to ensure that developing countries will be supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international financial institutions with the resources they need to confront this unprecedented global crisis. 


  1. Debt Relief: Instructs U.S. representatives to the international financial institutions to support a suspension of debt payments to those institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic;
  2. Protection of Public Health Spending: Instructs U.S. representatives to the international financial institutions to oppose programs that undermine countries’ ability to respond to COVID-19, such as those that encourage cuts to public health spending;
  3. Needed Resources: Instructs the U.S. representative to the IMF to support issuing 3 trillion in “Special Drawing Rights.”

The United Nations World Food Program estimates that, as a result of the pandemic, 265 million people could face starvation by the end of the year.  A report published by the United Nations University has found that half a billion people could be pushed into poverty. Bold, concerted international action is urgently needed.

One key measure that economists, development experts and humanitarian organizations from around the world are calling for is a major issuance of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). A special international reserve asset created by the IMF, SDRs are distributed to central banks of countries in proportion to their IMF quotas. Countries can exchange SDRs for freely usable currencies when they are in weak financial positions. They are similar to the Federal Reserve’s swap arrangements, which have primarily benefited wealthy nations, whereas SDRs are distributed to all IMF member countries. Congress should support this costless and effective currency lifeline for the rest of the world.

The IMF last issued SDRs in 2009 in response to the global financial crisis and thereby helped ease the impact of the crisis on developing economies. Because SDRs are issued to each country roughly in proportion to the size of its economy, economists project that an issuance of three trillion SDRs will ensure that significant help can reach Latin America, sub-saharan Africa and other regions that face major economic and public health emergencies.

An issuance of SDRs for COVID-19 recovery has been endorsed by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, the Secretary General of the UN, most G20 countries, the New York Times and the Financial Times. Former World Bank Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz asserts that in order to help developing economies, “Full use must be made of the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights.” 

Another important measure to help developing countries during the pandemic is a moratorium on debt service payments to the IMF, World Bank and other international financial institutions. Low and middle income countries owe their creditors an estimated $2.7- $3.4 trillion in foreign currency debt service over the two years 2020-21.* Across 46 countries, debt payments for this year are currently projected to be 400% of their health budgets. 

H.R. 6581 supports both a major issuance of SDRs and a moratorium on debt to international financial institutions, two vital measures that provide developing countries with critical financial support as they battle the pandemic. 

We ask that you contact alex.campbell@mail.house.gov in Rep. García’s office to cosponsor H.R.6581 and urge House Leadership to adopt this lifesaving and urgently needed proposal in the next coronavirus spending package.

Thank you for your consideration,

Action Corps
Action Corps Florida
ActionAid USA
Africa Faith and Justice Network
Alianza Americas
American Friends Service Committee
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain
Amnesty International USA
Association of Concerned Africa Scholars (USA)
Baltimore Nonviolence Center
Baltimore, MD Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter Veterans For Peace
Baltimore Peace Action
Bread for the World
Brooklyn For Peace
CASA, Maryland
Center for Economic and Policy Research
Center for International Policy
Central Florida Jobs With Justice
Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility
Chicago Area Peace Action
Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America
Church World Service
Coalition for Peace Action
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Concerned Citizens For Change, NY
Concerned Families of Westchester
Congregation of Our Lady of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces
Congregation Rodeph Sholom
Demand Progress
Faiths for Safe Water
Farmworker Association of Florida
First Unitarian Church Des Moines
Freedom Forward
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Global Exchange
Global Justice Clinic of NYU School of Law
Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition
Growing Hope Globally
Health Alliance International
Helping Hand for Survivors
Historians for Peace and Democracy
Iglesia Episcopal Jesus de Nazaret
Indivisible South Bay LA
Iowa Interfaith Power and Light
J Street
Jobs With Justice
Jubilee USA Network
Just Foreign Policy
Justice Is Global
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
League of Women Voters of the United States
Maine Episcopal Network for Justice
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Maryland Peace Action
Maryland United for Peace and Justice
Massachusetts Peace Action
Mauritanian Network for Human Rights
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Methodist Federation for Social Action, Iowa Chapter
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
New Jersey Peace Action
NYC-DSA Anti-War Working Group
Oxfam America
Partners In Health
Partnerships for Trauma Recovery
Pax Christi USA
Peace Action
Peace Action Maine
Peace Action New York State
Peters Partnership Organization
Physicians for Social Responsibility Iowa Chapter
Plymouth UCC Peace Committee, Des Moines, IA
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Prevent Nuclear War/Maryland
Project Blueprint
Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture, NY
Save the Children US
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Justice Team
Sisters of St. Dominic of Blauvelt, New York
Socal Friends of the World Social Forum
STAND: the student-led movement to end mass atrocities
The Hunger Project
The Peace & Justice Program of All Souls NYC
The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
Union for Reform Judaism
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
US Labor Against the War
Washington Global Health Alliance
WESPAC Foundation
Western New York Peace Center
Win Without War
Women Against War
Women’s Refugee Care
Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation
Yemeni Alliance Committee

*This communication does not purport to represent the institutional views, if any, of New York University.