Bush Makes Surprise Food Aid Announcement

President Bush asked Congress to approve $770 million in new international food aid on Thursday, as rising global food prices have plunged millions into hunger.

Some Democrats, however, criticized the president for attaching the request to a supplemental budget request for the fiscal year 2009, arguing that the aid may arrive too late to avert a global crisis.

Bush, however, said the money would demonstrate the U.S.' commitment to tackling the problem.

"With the new international funding I'm announcing today we're sending a clear message to the world that America will lead the fight against hunger for years to come," Bush said at a hastily arranged press conference at the White House on Thursday.

"I think more needs to be done and so today I'm asking Congress to provide an additional $770 million to support food aid and development programs."

Increased global demand, coupled with severe weather in Australia and other parts of the world has caused food prices to increase significantly in the last several months. The rising food prices have also led to social unrest, especially in Haiti where food riots prompted the resignation of Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis.

In an interview with The Crypt on Thursday afternoon, Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Penn.) said the announcement was "a little good news and a lot of bad news," arguing that 2009 may be too late for many people in the developing world.

"We are talking about delivering food [next] January instead of in June," Casey said.

"This [announcement] doesn't help at all in the coming weeks and months in terms of the urgency of the problem."
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