October 20, 2011 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann, George Ingram and Jim Kolbe:
As the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction – the Super Committee – works toward delivering its final recommendations next month, we urge members to avoid making drastic and disproportionate cuts that would cripple U.S. foreign assistance programs and undercut reforms that are making these programs more effective and accountable than ever before.
To this end, we are concerned that several of the recommendations transmitted by the House Foreign Affairs Committee to the Super Committee could damage our nation’s ability to address urgent challenges, including turmoil in the Middle East, famine in Africa, and particularly the transitions from military to civilian control in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Although we believe it is imperative to get the country’s fiscal house in order, we must not do so at the expense of national security. We urge Joint Committee Members to focus on a few key issues as they continue their work:
- The United States Agency for International Development (USAID): The agency is being asked to bear a much bigger national security burden as a result of the issues outlined above, and we believe it is imperative that adequate funding for personnel and global operations be maintained. To ensure that every dollar of this funding is used pertinently and effectively, it is also critical to support aggressive internal reforms that are underway, including an overhaul of procurement practices and new efforts to bolster monitoring and accountability through the USAID budget and policy offices.
- Foreign Assistance Funding Vehicles and Prioritization: The U.S. must be more selective about how and what to fund in terms of development, as the Obama Administration and leaders in Congress have said repeatedly. While taking steps like increasing resources for USAID’s Development Credit Authority (DCA) could help spur economic growth in developing countries, it would be counterproductive to fund this increase by siphoning resources away from the overall development assistance account, which supports health, education, and entrepreneurship programs that are the backbones of growth in the first place.
- Multilateral Organizations: U.S. leadership in supporting multilateral organizations like those in the World Bank group has been behind some of the greatest advances in health and development the world has ever known. Particularly in a time when budgets are tight, our support for multilaterals and the leveraging it provides with our allies will help make our development investments go further.
Maintaining support for foreign assistance, including the unprecedented reform process underway across the U.S. government, will keep the U.S. strong abroad while ensuring U.S. taxpayer dollars are spent as effectively as possible.