The severe cuts to U.S. foreign assistance proposed yesterday by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations (SFOPS) would fall hardest on the world’s poorest people, millions of whom are alive and thriving today because of U.S. leadership on international development over the last decade.
During yesterday’s mark-up of the FY2012 Foreign Relations Authorization Act, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs unanimously passed an amendment authored by Ranking Member Howard Berman that articulates clear goals for U.S. foreign assistance. By fostering bipartisan support for the amendment’s passage, Ranking Member Berman, Congress’ most vocal champion of foreign assistance reform, and Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen have created important momentum towards a larger goal: rewriting the Cold War-era Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. This is imperative in a world of complex and evolved challenges and tight budgets.
MFAN applauds the leadership of Congressman Poe in authoring these reform measures, and we also thank Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA) for pushing bipartisan support for the amendments, which passed the committee unanimously.
The Fiscal Year 2012 Foreign Relations Authorization Act (H.R. 2583), which is under consideration by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (HCFA) today, advances some useful pieces of the foreign assistance reform agenda, including prioritizing economic growth as a central goal of U.S. engagement with developing countries, fostering greater collaboration with non-government actors on development, streamlining the foreign assistance bureaucracy, and coordinating more effectively with international partners.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) Report on Afghanistan assistance released yesterday contains some signs of progress, as well as compelling evidence that the Obama Administration’s efforts to reform U.S. foreign assistance are moving in the right direction. That said, we agree with the report’s conclusion that policymakers must create a long-term development strategy for Afghanistan that is more comprehensive and accountable. We continue to need a similar strategy, which was promised in last year’s Presidential Policy Directive on Development, for broader U.S. efforts to alleviate poverty, improve public health, and spur economic growth in poor countries. In both strategies, policymakers need to make clear distinctions between assistance for security purposes and assistance for development.
We commend President Obama for launching a bold new effort to make development, particularly inclusive economic growth, a top priority for U.S. policy in the Middle East. This is critical to helping citizens of the Middle East move from poverty and protest to peace and prosperity; and another example of the strong, bipartisan commitment to elevating development as a core pillar of U.S. foreign policy, alongside diplomacy and defense.
On his blog earlier today, Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein posted a piece about five ways foreign aid could be improved to cost less and be more effective. After establishing that foreign aid makes up just less than 1 percent of the federal budget, Klein writes, “But even though we’re actually spending less than Americans think we should, the perception that we massively overspend makes it easier for politicians to slash foreign aid whenever they need to make some budget cuts.”
News Clips 5.13.2011 Note: You can sign up to receive full text of these articles by clicking here. Today’s Headline: See our Twitter feed @ModernizeAid for live tweets from yesterday’s overflow event for the newly-formed Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance. Commentary Sen. Lugar Raises Afghan Mission Questions (NPR Morning Edition, May 13) INSKEEP: Of course, since bin … Continue reading MFAN’s Daily News Clips
News Clips 5.12.2011 Note: You can sign up to receive full text of these articles by clicking here. Today’s Headline: We commend Representatives Ander Crenshaw (R-FL) and Adam Smith (D-WA) for launching the Congressional Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance. The Caucus is the first of its kind to focus solely on reforming foreign assistance to maximize … Continue reading MFAN’s Daily News Clips
News Clips 5.11.2011 Note: You can sign up to receive full text of these articles by clicking here. Today’s Headline: Tomorrow, Reps. Crenshaw and Smith will launch the newly-formed Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance at an event featuring USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and a panel of other leading development community voices. For more information, click here. … Continue reading MFAN’s Daily News Clips