The U.S. made history today – but not in a way that’ll make you proud.

For the first time ever, we lost our vote in a United Nations organization for failing to pay our dues. And the agency we just walked away from is none other than the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), whose programs are clearly and directly in the interests of Americans.

UNESCO, charged with promoting education, science, and culture worldwide, works to build democracy from the roots of society, including in critical yet unstable nations like Iraq.

And the reason we no longer have a voice in such a vital international organization is because of an outdated law that forced the U.S. to withdraw all funding for UNESCO – 22 percent of its operational budget – when the Palestinians were granted full membership in 2011.

By withdrawing all funding – not to mention failing to pay up the $240 million in arrears that the U.S. already owes UNESCO – we’re starving an institution that works to advance freedom and democracy in extremely volatile regions like the Middle East.

And that means we’re not only punishing UNESCO, but we’re also punishing ourselves by jeopardizing our own national security and interests abroad.

The silver lining is that Americans get what’s at stake here: Polling shows that eight in ten voters think it’s important for the U.S. to be a member of UNESCO.

Now, we need your help to make sure Congress gets the message: Tell your representatives that you care about the U.S. maintaining its vote in UNESCO – and that they need to make it happen.