April 2, 2019 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs George Ingram, Lester Munson, and Tessie San Martin.
The Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network is concerned by President Donald Trump’s decision to block aid to three Central American countries. U.S. foreign assistance is a tool that advances American interests and values by working directly in communities on issues that grow their economy, improve safety and health, and strengthen their infrastructure.
Funding programs based on short-term political considerations is an inefficient use of taxpayer money, and could work against shared development objectives and yield sub-optimal outcomes for U.S. interests. In addition, the Trump administration’s record of cuts, and both executive and congressional delays in funding, interrupt the smooth functioning of programs. Instability and interruptions limit the effectiveness of programs designed to save lives and further American interests abroad.
Our use of foreign assistance aims to create the conditions under which aid is no longer necessary, investing in future American trade partners and allies, as articulated by the Trump administration itself. To be most effective, U.S. foreign aid should be directed to where the need is greatest and where it can have the most impact.
“Transparency, ownership and accountability are the hallmarks of sustainable assistance and essential to self-reliance. The sudden withdrawal of appropriated aid to the region subverts the administration’s own efforts to champion effective foreign assistance,” said Tessie San Martin, MFAN Co-Chair and President & CEO of Plan International USA.
“I’m concerned about the ramifications of this decision – and how counterproductive it will be. This runs counter to the widely recognized value of U.S. assistance and undermines the success of our programs,” said George Ingram, MFAN Co-Chair and Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution.
“We strongly encourage the executive branch and the Congress to think more creatively and with more nuance about the ways it uses foreign assistance tools to achieve foreign policy goals,” said Lester Munson, MFAN Co-Chair and Principal at BGR Group.