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SFRC Bill Seeks to Strengthen USAID, Adds to Aid Reform Momentum

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July 28, 2009 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:

MFAN commends Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), Ranking Minority Member Dick Lugar (R-IN), and Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Bob Corker (R-TN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Jim Risch (R-ID) for introducing the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009 (S.1524). The bill aims to start the process of foreign assistance reform, and we urge Members of both parties to support its final passage.

There is clear, bipartisan momentum behind efforts to modernize the U.S. foreign assistance system to meet the diverse geopolitical and economic challenges we face. While there are many issues to be resolved, we are optimistic about success because both houses of Congress and the Obama Administration are making dynamic progress:

  • Ninety-three bipartisan Members of the House are supporting Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman’s Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 2139), which has similar provisions to the Senate bill on prioritizing development policy and transparency;
  • Secretary Clinton is moving forward with the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), a blueprint for our diplomatic and development efforts. She also secured strong funding for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the 2010 budget and has taken the lead in forging the administration’s new global food security initiative;
  • President Obama promised a empowered, streamlined, 21st-century development agency during the campaign, and there are indications that the White House may issue a Presidential Study Directive to make sure overall U.S. development policy—whether related to trade, agriculture, climate change or finance — is more strategic and coordinated; and,
  • Both Chairman Kerry and Chairman Berman appear ready to revisit in coming months the badly outdated Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.

Chairman Kerry, Ranking Minority Member Lugar, and the other supporters of S.1524 deserve praise for proposing a basic goal to which all of these reform efforts can generally ascribe: making our foreign assistance more effective at promoting global development and good governance, as well as reducing poverty and hunger. The Senate legislation would strengthen USAID and introduce new transparency measures for foreign assistance, both of which would help reach these broader goals.

There has been a long delay in the appointment of a USAID Administrator. This position needs to be filled to provide leadership for the agency, help guide the reform process, and voice a global-development perspective in the councils of government. The new USAID Administrator will co-chair the QDDR and should also be given a seat on the National Security Council.

Contact: Sam Hiersteiner at 202-337-0808 or shiersteiner@gpgdc.com

For more information, please visit www.moderizeaid.net.

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5 Responses to “SFRC Bill Seeks to Strengthen USAID, Adds to Aid Reform Momentum”

  1. [...] Two leaders in MFAN’s growing coalition, Ritu Sharma of Women Thrive Worldwide and Reuben Brigety of the Center for American Progress, were quoted by high-level media outlets on development issues in recent days.  In a Washington Post article on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s focus on global women’s issues, Sharma stressed that foreign assistance reform is an imperative if Clinton hopes to meet her goals for women in developing countries.  In a USA Today piece, Brigety lamented that the U.S. does not have the capability to send more development experts into the field because of the overall poor health and staffing shortages at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is a focus of reform efforts by the State Department and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  [...]

  2. [...] approach to global development, adding to the tremendous momentum generated by actions taken by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the State [...]

  3. [...] the unique opportunity to reform foreign assistance based on current legislation in the House and Senate, as well as the QDDR and the recently announced Presidential Study Directive.  He points to [...]

  4. [...] the recently announced PSD in the White House, and draft legislation in the House (H.R. 2139) and Senate (S. 1524) we are more positioned than ever before to make foreign assistance reform happen.  To [...]

  5. [...] Feldstein’s contribution to the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009 (S.1524)—the reform bill aimed at strengthening USAID—that was sponsored by Chairman Kerry (D-MA) and [...]

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