The 112th Congress: A Perfect Storm for Aid Cuts, or a Perfect Opportunity for Reform?

Connie Veillette, Ph.D., the Director of the Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance program at the Center for Global Development and MFAN’s newest Principal, guest blogged for The Will and The Wallet today. With one week left before the mid-term elections, Veillette ponders how the mounting budget deficit and the changing political dynamic will affect funding of the 150 account and the progress that has been made to date in advancing foreign assistance reform.feature-box-veillette-copy

“The American public has a better appreciation for the role that development plays as a key part of U.S. global engagement in the post-9/11 world.  Yet, policymakers often view foreign assistance as an area that can be cut without provoking public backlash.  This is in part because the direct beneficiaries live beyond our shores and the longer-term benefits for the U.S. take time, sometimes fail, and can be difficult to attribute to a specific foreign assistance intervention.”

Veillette makes several recommendation to Members of Congress, administration officials and development advocates to avoid “the perfect storm.” After all, “cutting it [the international affairs budget] would do far more harm to U.S. foreign policy than it will contribute to fiscal restraint.”

Her recommendations include:

  • Embrace reform as a way to improve effectiveness and achieve sustainable results.  The U.S. foreign assistance framework needs an overhaul – from its objectives to its architecture and everything in-between.   Reform also means prioritizing evaluations that can guide policy making and funding allocations.   The result will be that aid dollars will not just go farther, they’ll accomplish more.
  • Give Congress some ownership of important initiatives, including the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, the new Global Development Policy, and the Feed the Future Initiative, among others.  Many of the ideas in the latter two were informed by early work done by authorizing committees.  This entails meaningful collaboration with more Members on more issues.  And yes, that includes Members who have been the most skeptical
  • Discard the notion that Republicans don’t get it when it comes to foreign assistance.  Some of the largest aid increases in history came under the previous Bush administration with bipartisan support in Congress.

To read the full article click here or visit the Stimson Center’s blog, The Will and the Wallet.

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