In her latest post for MFAN Partner CGD’s Rethinking US Foreign Assistance Blog, director of the initiative Connie Veillette asks how Congress fits into the new development strategy laid out by the Obama administration. Veillette compares President Kennedy’s foreign assistance reform efforts to those of the Obama administration, noting that President Kennedy recognized the value of engaging Congress in a truly comprehensive manner. Read the rest of her post here and see a few excerpts below:
“Soon after Kennedy’s special message to Congress was delivered, the White House sent up draft legislation for a new assistance framework that in due course became the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961—the same legislation that still guides U.S. assistance programs today. By contrast, the impression given by administration officials is that they hope to implement the PPD and the yet-to-be-released QDDR via executive directives, which don’t require legislation or congressional approval. Congress is seen as a last resort, perhaps even an untrustworthy partner.”
“Admittedly, getting anything through Congress is not easy these days. But there are benefits that outweigh the cost in time and effort. The legislative stamp of approval creates congressional support that tends to endure over time. We are asking for recipient country buy-in, so isn’t it a good idea to have congressional buy-in?”
“Oh, and what else from Kennedy’s message is also missing from the Obama plan? JFK’s very first point:”
Unified administration and operation – a single agency in Washington and the field, equipped with a flexible set of tools, in place of several competing and confusing aid units.