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Archive for August, 2009

Call by Former Secretaries of State for Robust Development and Diplomacy Funding

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
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June 25, 2009 (Washington, DC) - This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:

Today, eight former Secretaries of State published a Politico column calling for Congress to provide more robust funding for development and diplomacy and bring these civilian instruments of U.S. foreign policy into better balance with national defense efforts.  Perhaps most importantly, the former Secretaries said, “Providing the personnel and financial resources to manage our diplomacy and development policies is an urgent matter of national security.”

MFAN strongly supports this call, particularly as it relates to strengthening the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), America’s premier development agency which works to alleviate poverty, fight disease, and, as the signatories of the column said, help “developing countries achieve rapid, sustained and broad-based economic growth.”  As they also said, “such efforts are critical to helping us weather the worldwide recession that grips us.”

We agree, and would go further. We believe that providing robust funding and resources for development is only part of the recipe for changing the way the U.S. engages with the world and addressing the urgent challenges we face.  We must also modernize the U.S. foreign assistance system – our primary mechanism for carrying out development – in order to make sure that any resources committed to these efforts are spent effectively and get into the hands of people who need help most.  This will be a big challenge, due to the fact that the foreign assistance system has more than 60 different government offices carrying out development programs.  The legislation governing the system has not been updated in two decades.  The Obama Administration and Congress can change this situation by passing a strong FY10 International Affairs Budget and taking these key steps towards modernization:

  • Immediately naming an experienced and savvy USAID Administrator, and giving that person a   seat at the National Security Council so that he/she can bring a high-level development voice to critical foreign policy discussions;
  • Incorporating the Administrator into the process of developing America’s first-ever, government-wide National Strategy for Global Development, a move supported by House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA), who introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R. 2139) on the topic (which now has 53 bipartisan co-sponsors);
  • Clarifying the Administrator’s role in relation to other agencies involved in U.S. foreign assistance, including the State Department, MCC, and PEPFAR; and,
  • Empowering the Administrator to rebuild the policy and budget planning capacity at USAID, as well as restore the technical development expertise at the agency.

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

House Passes Foreign Relations Authorization Act

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
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June 11, 2009 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:

MFAN applauds members of the House of Representatives for demonstrating their commitment to “smart power” foreign policy with yesterday’s passage of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 (H.R. 2410), which will strengthen U.S. diplomacy and development capabilities and bring better balance to U.S. efforts to engage with the world.

We believe that provisions in the bill calling for increased hiring at the State Department and USAID, rigorous monitoring and evaluation of nonmilitary foreign assistance programs, strategic review of diplomatic and development activities, and repeals of outdated stipulations in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 are essential for achieving U.S. foreign policy and national security goals. By investing in nonmilitary capacity — and ensuring that those resources are used efficiently and transparently — the House is helping to strengthen U.S. foreign policy.

We also applaud Chairman Berman for introducing The Initiative Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 2139), which would further strengthen the steps taken in the State Department Authorization bill to ensure U.S. taxpayer dollars are spent strategically and effectively. H.R. 2139 would direct the President to create a National Strategy for Global Development and set out clear goals for and better coordinate U.S. development policy and programs across the government. A growing list of bipartisan cosponsors has already signed on to the legislation.

We are grateful for Chairman Berman’s leadership on these critical issues, and we are hopeful that both H.R. 2139 and H.R. 2410 continue to move speedily through the legislative process.

Contact: Hannah Kaye at 202-337-0808 or hkaye@gpgdc.com

House Foreign Affairs Committee Passes State Department Authorization Bill

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
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May 22, 2009 (Washington, D.C.)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing ForeignAssistance Network (MFAN) by MFAN Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:

Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) and other bipartisan Members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (HCFA) deserve credit for passing H.R. 2410, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which would provide funding for the State Department to carry out diplomacy and development programs. These programs are critical components of a successful, 21st-century U.S. foreign policy and our national security approach. We urge the full House to pass the bill when it comes to the floor in coming weeks.

MFAN is particularly pleased that H.R. 2410 includes strong resources for development promoting foreign assistance programs that fight poverty and disease, create economic opportunity, and highlight American values in poor countries. Additional action is needed to make sure that these resources are used more strategically and efficiently.

To this end, we urge U.S. leaders to move forward with modernizing the U.S. foreign assistance system by supporting the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 2139), which was introduced by Chairman Berman and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL). The bill calls on the Obama Administration to create America’s first-ever National Strategy for Global Development (NSGD), which would ensure that U.S. development efforts are better coordinated, monitored, and accounted for across the U.S. government. Just as importantly, the NSGD would make sure development efforts are better integrated into, and supportive of, our National Security Strategy.

We call on Congress to support these efforts because they will save more lives by making sure taxpayer backed foreign assistance is getting directly to people who need help most.

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

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

Senator Kerry Makes Public Commitment to Elevating Development and Reforming Foreign

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
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May 21, 2009 (Washington, D.C.)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by MFAN Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:

In an important speech today at the Brookings Institution, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) outlined a bold and comprehensive vision for a stronger, more effective U.S. foreign policy, saying: “If we are to rise to meet…new challenges, this much is clear: Development and diplomacy must retake their rightful place alongside defense at the heart of America’s foreign policy.”

MFAN shares Chairman Kerry’s belief that U.S. non-military foreign assistance programs that alleviate poverty, fight disease, and create opportunities in the developing world are both investments in the U.S. national interest and critical expressions of American values. We also strongly support the Chairman’s pledge to introduce legislation that will begin the process of modernizing the U.S. foreign assistance system in order to make sure these investments are more coordinated and transparent, as well as more effective at getting help to the people who need it most. MFAN thanks Senator Kerry for his leadership on elevating global development issues, and we look forward to offering him support as he takes on these crucial tasks.

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Passage of Kerry-Lugar Amendment Restores Critical International Affairs Funding to Budget Resolution

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
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April 2, 2009 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by MFAN Co-Chairs Steve Radelet and David Beckmann:

MFAN applauds the Senate’s unanimous passage of the “Kerry-Lugar amendment” to the FY10 budget resolution, which restored $4 billion to the International Affairs account and maintained the level of funding that was originally requested by President Obama. 

The amendment’s sponsors, Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN), the respective chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, deserve special recognition for their leadership.  The amendment shows that they believe the United States must stay deeply engaged with the rest of the world, and we are particularly heartened that it allows for continued U.S. global development programs that alleviate poverty, fight disease, create opportunity, and foster sustainable security for people in poor countries. 

We stand ready to support Senators Kerry and Lugar as they work to keep America engaged in the world and make sure our international affairs investments are made as strategically and effectively as possible.  One of the best ways to do this will be modernizing the outdated U.S. foreign assistance system.  As Senator Kerry said recently, “we must…[initiate] a foreign aid reform process that will make our interventions more effective and efficient.”

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

For more information on MFAN’s detailed foreign assistance modernization plan, please visit www.moderizeaid.net.