Activists lobby lawmakers on Capitol Hill for global aid

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Hundreds of activists are taking their fight against global poverty and disease to the nation’s capital. Washington Correspondent Alana Austin catches up with one Boise woman devoted to saving lives.

United under one cause…Boise’s Ali Escalante is fighting to end AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria – diseases she says too often strike the most vulnerable in our society.

“Idaho taxpayers have been able to save nearly 30,000 lives,” says Escalante. “I think Idahoans are very giving. When someone’s in need, they want to help.”

Escalante and other volunteers with the ONE campaign are lobbying lawmakers to continue supporting US-backed foreign aid programs. She and other young activists from around the country met this week with Idaho Republican Senator Jim Risch.

“Most Americans really don’t have a complete understanding of the humanitarian work that we do outside the borders of the United States…where there’s millions of people fed everyday by U.S. taxpayers,” said Risch.

Risch – who serves on the foreign relations committee – is considering the ONE campaign’s request to keep funds flowing to the Global Fund, which fights disease in impoverished communities. But Risch says the US faces a long-term challenge: rising expenses the government must pay, limiting other spending.

“That’s where the real pressure is...there’s less and less money to spend every year on discretionary things,” said Risch.

During President Trump’s recent State of the Union address, he pledged to wipe out HIV transmissions by 2030. The details of those plans are still to be released.