January 19, 2021 (WASHINGTON) — This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network by Co-Chairs Lester Munson, Larry Nowels and Tessie San Martin.
As one of his first acts in office, the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) calls on President-elect Biden to withdraw the Trump administration’s last-minute rescissions package canceling $27.4 billion in previously appropriated funds, including $15.8 billion in foreign assistance.
For the past four years, the Trump administration has proposed massive cuts to foreign aid and threatened to rescind billions more for programs that save lives and advance American national security and economic interests. Congress has rejected these earlier attempts, but the mere suggestion of such action delays the availability of funds and will have a disruptive impact on achieving effective outcomes for U.S. foreign assistance.
Congressional leaders have already said they will not take seriously nor approve the proposal. For the rescissions to enter into force, lawmakers must explicitly pass a bill within 45 days. Even if Congress does nothing to support the rescission, the funds remain frozen during the 45-day period, allowing $4 billion to support COVID-19 global vaccination efforts through GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and over $3 billion in humanitarian assistance to languish as the COVID-19 pandemic rages. These funds are vital to ensuring that the U.S. is prepared to react to unforeseen circumstances and support COVID-19 vaccine distribution in developing countries.
President-elect Biden and Congress can wait for the “clock” to run out on the rescission approval process or the administration can immediately withdraw the previous administration’s request.
“The Trump administration’s request is one last chance to sow confusion and chaos and further undermine the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance,” said Larry Nowels, MFAN co-chair. “There is clear precedent for the incoming administration to pull back from the pending proposal and I urge the President-elect to withdraw this request immediately.”
“The needs are great and by targeting the funds appropriated for GAVI and humanitarian assistance, the Trump administration creates the potential for disaster and a further slowing of our global response to COVID-19,” said Tessie San Martin, MFAN co-chair and President and CEO of Plan International USA.
“The incoming Biden administration has already signaled that it intends to ask for additional money to support a robust international response to COVID-19,” said Lester Munson, MFAN co-chair and principal at BGR Group. “By withdrawing these damaging and potentially disastrous rescissions, the new administration would further distance itself from the previous administration’s disruptive approach.”
Forty years ago, in his last days in office, President Carter sent Congress a request to rescind $1.1 billion in appropriated funds, something that the Reagan administration withdrew a few weeks after taking office. MFAN urges the Biden administration to take similar action and withdraw the Trump administration’s last-minute rescission.