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On December 1, 2005, President Bush signed the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 (H.R. 1973) into law. The bill was named for the late Senator from Illinois, Paul Simon, who was a Congressional pioneer in recognizing the need and advocating for drinking water and sanitation worldwide.
The new law came as a result of tremendous bipartisan efforts made by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), Representative Henry Hyde (R-IL) and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV). Representative Blumenauer and Senator Frist originally authored legislation in the both the House and Senate.
“Water Advocates thanks President Bush and all the Members of Congress who supported this critical legislation," said David Douglas, president of the nonprofit, an organization dedicated to increasing American support for worldwide access to safe, affordable and sustainable drinking water and adequate sanitation. “In today’s fractured Congress it is inspiring to see so many Members on both sides of the aisle coming together to help solve this persistent need. This bill will have an enormous impact on lives around the globe.”
“The Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act is the most significant global legislation passed by this Congress,” said Ambassador John McDonald, chairman of the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy and a leader in global drinking water issues for almost thirty years. “This bill provides the platform on which we can advance US action and implementation, as well as build on the Millennium Development Goals and the U.N. Decade of Water adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2003.”
Waterborne diseases cause over 80% of illnesses in the developing world. Access to adequate drinking water and sanitation serves as a catalyst for better public health, education, poverty reduction and women’s empowerment, according to Water Advocates.
The new law creates an opportunity to save hundreds of thousands of lives by extending safe water to those most in need. It also makes drinking water and sanitation a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy and directs the Department of State to come up with an overall strategy to be implemented by the U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID).