On the same day that a nominee for Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was announced – Dr. Rajiv Shah – a resolution (S.Res.312) introduced by Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Ben Cardin (D-MD) to empower and strengthen USAID passed the Senate yesterday by unanimous consent.
In addition to calling for a “powerful advocate and effective leader” to be USAID administrator, who will serve as the chief advocate for U.S. development policy and strategy, the resolution urges the Senate to provide adequate resources to an empowered USAID to hire additional Foreign Service officers and support staff.
“If U.S. development policy and, by extension, U.S. foreign policy is to succeed in the long run, USAID must be an independent body that can advocate for what it knows best—how to effectively deliver and implement U.S. foreign assistance. It must have a meaningful seat at the table,” said Sen. Dodd, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a Senate floor statement. “It has long been understood that international development is a critically important aspect of our foreign policy. It was high time we matched this reality with a real and meaningful commitment.”
“Foreign development assistance is as critical to America’s standing in the world as diplomacy and defense. It not only provides aid to those most in need but is also a symbol of American values,” said Sen. Durbin. “Military and civilian leaders both agree: a strong development strategy is critical for our long term success.”
“The message from the Senate is clear: development and foreign assistance comprise a vital pillar of our foreign policy, therefore USAID must be given the authority, as well as the resources and personnel, required to accomplish its mission on behalf of the American people,” said Sen. Cardin, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations International Development and Foreign Assistance Subcommittee.
“As the son of a career Foreign Service officer, I know the importance of establishing strong U.S. partnerships abroad,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a lead cosponsor of the measure. “New and effective leadership at USAID is urgently needed to reinvigorate the agency and increase the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance efforts in critical countries such as Afghanistan and throughout the world.”
In total, the legislation has 20 cosponsors, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-IN).