Savannah, Georgia is a lot of things at once – leafy yet urban, classical but edgy, sleepy in the squares and bumpin’ in the bars. So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when my meeting with a staffer who works for Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA) – a congressman who voted FOR the Ryan budget,  went really, really well. “You’re preaching to the choir, here,” were her exact words to me. Wait, what?

220px-rep-_jack_kingston In a press release titled, “Kingston Applauds Path to Prosperity Budget Proposal” featured on his website, Rep. Kingston is quoted as saying, “We are at a precipice and [the Ryan budget] offers a vision to restore America.” This is the budget proposal that guts funding for agencies like the State Department, USAID, and other international development programs. In other words, a shortsighted vision.

And yet, sitting in Rep. Kingston’s regional office, which was covered floor-to-ceiling in military memorabilia (Kingston’s district is home to Moody AFB, Ft. Stewart, Hunter Army Airfield and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay) and photos of the congressman’s trips around the world, I couldn’t have felt more welcomed. His staff member and I chatted at length about the critical role international development plays in keeping America safe, and she assured me that Rep. Kingston couldn’t agree more – in fact, he had just returned from a trip to East Africa, where he personally sponsors the education of several young orphans, and his trip underscored his commitment to funding international development programs.

At the end of the meeting, Rep. Kingston’s staffer – herself a military spouse – gave me a warm hug, offered to try to get the congressman out to one of the Make US Strong events in DC, and gave me some personal advice about resources I can access if/when I ever deploy. Congressman Kingston has been rated as the “most conservative member of the House” by National Journal for his voting record – and the meeting could not have gone better.

For the hundredth time this trip, I felt like outside of the beltway, support for international development funding is truly a nonpartisan issue. Constituents and Members on both sides of the aisle agree that international development is a commonsense way to win friends, influence people, keep problems small and far away, and build stronger economic partners for the United States.  So why do members like Rep. Kingston – who apparently personally believes in these programs – feel like it’s okay to vote for a budget proposal that slashes funding? Probably because they think their constituents don’t care about international development, or worse, that they don’t like the idea of it. You can help correct that misperception by signing the Make US Strong petition  and by sharing the message of my ride with your friends and family.