December 18, 2019 (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.
This week, Congress released its final State and Foreign Operations budget bill. The Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network thanks Congress for rejecting the Trump administration’s overall blunt and drastic cuts to the foreign affairs budget for the third year and including high-priority effectiveness provisions in the final bill.
Development Finance Corporation
MFAN is pleased that upon passage of the final spending bill, the new U.S. Development Finance Corporation (DFC) will be able to open its doors and begin operations. MFAN is glad to see that the conference agreement increases DFC’s budget for administrative expenses, which will be key to implementing its development mandate. MFAN looks forward to working with Congress and the broader community to strengthen the DFC’s equity investment capacity in 2020, and ensure that the DFC has access to the full suite of financial tools.
Currently, USAID and the State Department maintain two duplicative and contradictory foreign aid databases. The bill includes modified Senate language requiring a report on the “process and timeline required to consolidate Foreign Aid Explorer (FAE) and ForeignAssistance.gov (FA.gov) into one database.” This improves upon the original Senate language requiring the consolidation of the two databases into FA.gov and eliminating FAE, and encourages a more rigorous effort to draw the strengths from each database into a single platform.
Safeguards against the instrumentalization of U.S. assistance
MFAN appreciates the inclusion of language to protect against the instrumentalization of U.S. development assistance, including requiring consultation with Congress before implementing “programmatic, funding, and organizational changes” as a result of a foreign assistance review or realignment, as well as a GAO study on any such review or realignment. MFAN also appreciates language to protect development assistance to Central America from further cuts.
USAID Operating Expenses and Capital Investment Fund
MFAN appreciates that the Committees once again rejected the administration’s deep cuts in USAID’s operating expenses and capital investment fund. We also commend the Committees for including strong language supporting USAID’s hiring of new staff members. MFAN looks forward to working with Congress in the new year to further strengthen these two critical accounts ensuring that USAID continues to have the resources necessary to carry out their vital mission.
MFAN applauds Congress for their commitment to U.S. leadership abroad, and thanks members of the Appropriations Committees in both chambers for their ongoing attention to aid effectiveness. The network in particular thanks Chairwoman Nita Lowey for years of impressive leadership on foreign affairs and looks forward to working closely with her on the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations.