July 13, 2020 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs Lester Munson, Larry Nowels, and Tessie San Martin.
Last week, the House Appropriations Committee passed its Fiscal Year 2021 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill. This bill is a significant new investment in American foreign assistance and the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network applauds the Committee, and Chairwoman Lowey in particular, for the robust level of funding in the bill, including a new investment of $10 billion to respond to COVID-19 globally. MFAN continues to urge Congress to include significant additional resources in any further Fiscal Year 2020 supplemental appropriations bill.
The bill includes and provides for $1.62 billion in resources for USAID Operating Expenses (OE), an increase of $30 million over FY20. However, MFAN notes that the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriation for OE is actually reduced in the House bill, and the increase comes from estimated carryover and other sources. MFAN encourages the committee to closely monitor the estimated resources available to USAID, and, if the amount declines, to increase the OE appropriation when the final bill is enacted.
MFAN also commends the committee for including significant bill language to reassert congressional control of foreign assistance spending. In particular, the bill has strengthened language to curb the use of last-minute rescissions. These rescissions and other attempts to cut foreign aid in defiance of Congress’ wishes have generated significant uncertainty for America’s foreign assistance agencies and implementing partners, and have undermined the effectiveness of American foreign assistance.
Finally, MFAN thanks the Committee for its strong commitment to the success of the new Development Finance Corporation (DFC). The bill includes important report language to improve transparency and accountability at the DFC, and to reassert the importance of the DFC’s development mandate. It also provides a much-needed increase in DFC’s administrative expenses, and provides stable funding for program expenses. MFAN notes the recent introduction of H.R. 7570, and is hopeful that Congress and the administration will soon reach an agreement on a path forward for scoring DFC’s equity investments in a manner that allows the DFC to more efficiently leverage the funds that it is appropriated.
MFAN congratulates Chairwoman Lowey and all members of the Committee on advancing this important legislation and looks forward to continuing to work with the Committee to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of U.S. foreign assistance. The coalition also thanks and applauds Chairwoman Lowey for years of strong, effective leadership as she heads into retirement. Her legacy will have lasting impact on foreign assistance and effective U.S. leadership.