Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and GOP Rep. Tom Emmer are urging the Trump administration to reconsider a proposed $17 billion cut in funding to the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development.
The lawmakers say slashing the funding threatens efforts to fight starvation in the Horn of Africa as the region faces severe drought.
Klobuchar said the proposed aid cut could mean a $300 million reduction in food and other aid for Somalia and neighboring nations.
"That's the difference between life and death for many people," she said Thursday at a panel discussion with Emmer.
The lawmakers said aid also can help fight terrorism and reduce the number of people driven to become refugees. They both praised the efforts of nonprofits, companies and individuals to help people in the region.
Emmer said foreign aid can benefit not just other nations but also the U.S.
"We are more safe and secure as a country and world if people in Africa are more secure in their lives," he said
With about a third of all Somali-Americans living in Minnesota, Emmer said, the famine in Somalia really hits home.
"They're members of our community," he said. "They're business owners, school teachers, family members and our friends.
"So, when we see more than 6 million people suffering in Somalia from what could be one of the worst famines in the country's history, it's a crisis that affects us right here in our communities across Minnesota."