Petition (ENG)

We, the undersigned, respectfully request that the U.S. Department of State reverse its recent decision to cut the funding for the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) by 50% and restore its support to $4 million to prevent a drastic reduction in participant numbers. The United States and Germany are two of the world’s most powerful nations and leading economies, and CBYX has played a vital role in fostering cultural exchange, building understanding, and strengthening ties between our two nations for more than three decades. The result is one of the strongest and most cooperative alliances of the last century.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives strongly believe that the relationship between the United States and Germany remains a strategic priority and should be supported through exchanges such as CBYX. Members of the House German-American Caucus recently wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry stating:

At a time of growing unrest in Eastern Europe and Russia, increased violence in the Middle East, and trade negotiations ongoing between the United States and Europe, our relationship with Germany remains as vital as any time since the establishment of the CBYX. We believe reductions would have an adverse effect upon bilateral relations.”

CBYX remains crucial to building understanding and relationships amongst young people in our two countries, a view expressed by eight former Ambassadors in Germany and the United States who regularly met with participants and personally witnessed the enormous impact this program had on their worldview and their personal and professional development:

“Our transatlantic alliance – on issues of trade and investment, international security, the environment and energy, and many others – contributes not only significant benefits to our own citizens, but also to the world community. We need to educate the next generation how to face the new challenges, as well as to take advantage of the great opportunities that exist between our two countries. They are tomorrow’s leaders and the investment in their future must be our highest priority.“

At an event in June 2014 celebrating the 30th anniversary of the CBYX program, the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State, Victoria Nuland, affirmed the views of the ambassadors stating,

“The German-American partnership serves as the core of the transatlantic partnership and CBYX plays a critical role in building the leaders who will contribute to that alliance.”

At an event in June 2014 celebrating the 30th anniversary of the CBYX program, the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State, Victoria Nuland, affirmed the views of the ambassadors stating,

“The German-American partnership serves as the core of the transatlantic partnership and CBYX plays a critical role in building the leaders who will contribute to that alliance.”

Since the program’s inception in 1983, more than 23,000 young people from the United States and Germany have had the opportunity to spend one year in each other’s respective countries – studying, working, and experiencing everyday life through CBYX. Jointly funded by both legislatures, no other such program, actively supported by the electoral bodies of the two governments, and providing a direct, reciprocal exchange, currently exists in the U.S. or Germany, symbolizing the importance and uniqueness of the German‐American partnership. The cultural immersion experience that CBYX provides its participants is unmatched, and has proven to positively impact many aspects of participants’ personal and professional development, not only during their year in Germany or the United States, but for years and decades to follow.

With news of the State Department’s reduction, the German Bundestag has pledged its support to help fund the entire costs of the program for the current year. However, without a reaffirmed commitment to continue funding at the $4 million level by the United States, the program will be in jeopardy beyond 2015.

As CBYX participants, CBYX alumni, friends of the program and concerned citizens, we strongly oppose these 50% cuts, and urge the State Department and Members of Congress to restore the $4 million funding level for 2015 and beyond to ensure the program’s longevity and a continued commitment to the German-American alliance.