News Clips 5.12.2011
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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 the impact of the 1 percent of our federal budget that is spent on promoting poverty alleviation, disease eradication, and equitable economic growth in developing countries. Read more of MFAN’s statement on the Caucus launch here.
- Libyan rebels get first tranche of U.S. aid: 10,000 MREs (FP Blog-Josh Rogin, May 11) The meals are part of the $25 million in non-lethal aid to the Libyan rebels the White House approved on April 26. That approval came 11 days after the State Department notified Congress that it wanted to spend the funds to help the Libyan rebel army fight off the forces of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi. “One of the reasons why I announced $25 million in non-lethal aid yesterday, why many of our partners both in NATO and in the broader Contact Group are providing assistance to the opposition, is to enable them to defend themselves and to repulse the attacks by Qaddafi forces,” Clinton said April 21.
- Obama, Congress ratchet up deficit-reduction talks (Reuters, May 12) Republicans’ are seeking long-term reforms to save money in retirement and healthcare programs for the poor and elderly, achieving more immediate cuts in programs ranging from education to foreign aid, while increasing defense spending. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, testifying to Congress, warned it was “a risky approach to not raise the debt limit in a reasonable time.” A failure by lawmakers to send a debt limit increase to Obama promptly, Bernanke added, would at the minimum result in higher interest rates and at worst “have extremely dire consequences for the U.S. economy.”
- Republicans say aid efforts in Haiti are a failure (AP, May 11) “The initial response was tremendous,” Shah said. “We would have had more success with rubble removal and housing if we had more specific support from our partners and the government of Haiti. We’re not in charge of Haiti. We’re in a bilateral partnership with Government of Haiti.” “You would be fired” if the recovery efforts showed the same results in the United States, said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., said USAID has suffered from budget cuts. But he added: “There is a responsibility to show this committee improvements are being made. I don’t think the patience is going to last forever.” Chaffetz, who chaired the subcommittee hearing, said USAID’s record wasn’t much better in Iraq and Afghanistan. He pointed to a memorandum to Shah from the agency inspector general that concluded wildly inaccurate claims were made about operations in Iraq.
- The U.S. Should Maintain Aid to Pakistan, Especially in Education (Brookings blog-Rebecca Wintrhop and Anda Adams, May 12) Since 2001, the majority of U.S. assistance to Pakistan – more than $20 billion – has gone to Pakistan’s military. Recognizing this imbalance in support, the 2009 legislation introduced by Senators Kerry and Lugar sought to “promote an enhanced strategic partnership with Pakistan and its people” by authorizing $7.5 billion over 5 years in non-military aid for democratic governance, economic freedom, investments in people, particularly women and children, and development in regions affected by conflict and displacement. In addition to being an overt attempt to win “hearts and minds” by focusing on Pakistan’s civilians, the bill also signaled a shift to a more stable allocation of aid to a country that has experienced extreme volatility in U.S. aid levels over the past fifty years as geopolitical interests have shifted.