The Trump Administration’s nomination of Ambassador Mark Green to serve as the next USAID Administrator has received strong bipartisan support from Congress. Invited representatives from Amb. Green’s home state of Wisconsin, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, lauded Green for his depth of experience, knowledge, and qualifications during his nomination hearing last Thursday. Many members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee agreed with the endorsements and expressed their excitement about working with Amb. Green. However, the Senators didn’t shy away from sharing their concerns with the proposed cuts in the Administration’s FY18 foreign affairs budget proposal and the reorganization process led by the White House Office of Management and Budget.
See below for a roundup of quotes from the nomination hearing.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI1): “Mark Green needs no introduction to this panel. He’s long been a forceful advocate for American leadership in global development. He undoubtedly possesses the expertise and the experience. He is the perfect person for this job, to lead USAID and to fulfill its mission. The work done by USAID is critical to advancing security and democracy around the world, even more this time than ever before. I could not give a better unqualified endorsement of a more fine person to lead a very important agency at a very important time than Mark Green.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN): “Food for Peace has been operating under decade-old requirements to use 100 percent U.S. foreign commodities, 50 percent of which must be shipped on over-priced, uncompetitive, U.S. flag vessels. If we could modernize the program with increased flexibility in food aid delivery whilst still maintaining a significant role for the U.S. farmer, we could feed 5 to 8 million more people a day with the exact same funding. If you are confirmed as Administrator I would seek your commitment to working with us and the Ag committees and others to modernize the program.”
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD): “We have budget cuts being recommended that would make it virtually impossible for USAID to carry out its mission. The budget would withdraw USAID missions from 37 countries. The OMB directive of reducing personnel could very well cripple the ability of carrying out missions. How would the State Department reorganize? I know how important it is for USAID’s independence within the State Department. Assure us that you’re going to be an effective voice within the Trump administration, recognizing that development assistance is critically important to our national security.”
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA): “I’ve known Mark Green for 20 years, I’ve never known a better public servant. I give him my unqualified endorsement.”
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI): “America has been a phenomenal force for good. When there are devastating floods and tsunamis, it is America’s fleet that goes steaming to rescue. When HIV/AIDS devastates Africa, it’s a program like PEPFAR that does so much. Like Secretary Mattis said, you either spend it here or give me ten times more bullets.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT): “Many of us are deeply worried that we are in a period of massive withdrawal from the world. Seems like we’ve been presented with a budget that is a blueprint for America walking away from our leadership position. My hope is that you will be a political power for good inside this administration, that you can help explain to this president and his national security team that we are cutting off our nose despite our face if we proceed with 30 percent cuts to these programs.”
Sen. Todd Young (R-IN): “USAID’s operations would be more efficient and effective if they are informed by fresh strategic analysis that includes the establishment of specific development priorities, milestones, and metrics supporting the national security strategy and coordinated with the national defense strategy. Sen. Shaheen and I introduced S.1228 on May 24. I look forward to working with this committee to pass the legislation, and once it’s passed, I look forward to working with you to ensure that our development reform and reorganization efforts, as well as USAID operations, are guided by current and careful strategic analyses.”
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ): “Earlier this week Secretary Tillerson came before this committee to explain indefensible cuts to American foreign policy and foreign assistance, programs in support of democracy, economic development, life-saving humanitarian and health initiatives. Unfortunately Secretary Tillerson did nothing to assuage the concerns that USAID and the institutional knowledge, the technical expertise, and the long-term programming it houses would be folded into a weakened and less effective the State Department. I don’t believe USAID is perfect, but I do welcome reforms that promote best practices, efficiency, and transparency. But its mission is fundamentally different from the State Department and critical to U.S. national security.”
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH): “Women and girls are disproportionately impacted during humanitarian crises. Sexual violence, exploitation, early and forced child marriage often increase significantly, while access to services, including maternal and child health, drastically decreases. The State Department decided to withhold funding from the UNFPA, the leading and sometimes only provider of maternal healthcare, post-rape care, and other reproductive services in humanitarian crises. It’s unacceptable to place vulnerable women and girls in a situation where they lose their only access to health care.”
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ): “We all want to be fiscally responsible, but we are in a global competition. The rise of China concerns me. China’s development assistance to Africa has increased 780 percent since 2003, they’ve now pledged $124 billion more at a time when we seem to be receding in our investments. We lead with our values. China seems to have overt utilitarian purposes for their investments. I have grave concerns about a retreat of American leadership, the values you are expressing are not seen in our budget. Thank god Congress sets the budget.”
Sen. James E. Risch (R-ID): “The world will be a better place when you are confirmed.”