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Archive for April, 2010

State Department Authorization Passes out of SFRC

Friday, April 30th, 2010
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On Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) passed the State Department Authorization Bill, S.2971, by voice vote – the first State authorization bill to pass out of the SFRC in five years.  The revised bill focuses on reforms at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the State Department, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), among others.  The most noteworthy reform was the decision to redefine the MCC’s low-income country category to include 75 of the poorest countries, thus expanding the opportunity for the U.S. to partner with more well-governed countries – a recommendation proposed in a recent paper by MFAN Partner the Center for Global Development.  Aside from these technical changes relating to new candidate income, the bill allows for MCC compacts to be extended from five to seven years and for countries to have concurrent compacts.  These measures will improve the MCC model – a model that embodies many of the reform principles including partnership, country ownership, and enhanced monitoring and evaluation.

For details on the amendments to the authorization bill follow this link.  To read more about how the authorization bill’s new provisions for the MCC relate to reform, read CGD’s Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance blog.

Lew, Shah Outline Obama Administration’s Food Security Plans

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
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Jack LewRaj ShahIn a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last week, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Jack Lew and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah provided an update on the status of the Administration’s Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative (GHFSI).

Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) opened the hearing by calling food insecurity “a challenge to our broader development efforts” as well as a challenge to our national security.  He also referenced the proposed $4 billion cut in international affairs spending in the budget resolution passed out of the Senate Budget Committee, saying, “Even in a tough budget environment, short-changing programs like these, in our judgment, will deliver little budget relief at enormous negative consequence to our global efforts… And it seems to me that it is wrong, and we will fight against any efforts to reduce the president’s request for a small increase, which is essential to the transformation of our foreign policy efforts and frankly to the recalibration of the allocation of resources between defense and diplomacy and humanitarian efforts.”

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Rozen Reports on FA Debate, USGLC Letter

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
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The National Security Council Deputies Committee meeting last week continues to generate buzz with a recent post by Politico blogger Laura Rozen.  Yesterday, Rozen posted a piece that focused on frustration felt on Capitol Hill among members and staff over the lack of significant consultation during the review processes for the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) and the White House’s Presidential Study Directive on Global Development Policy (PSD-7):

“We recognize there is not consensus within the administration for what is the appropriate direction for foreign assistance reform,” one Hill staffer told POLITICO. “We think it’s appropriate for us to have input in shaping that process and look forward to shaping that process.”

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President Obama’s Remarks from Entrepreneurship Summit

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
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Last night, President Obama spoke at the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship – the first summit to build off his promise of a “new beginning” from last year’s speech in Cairo.  The Summit, co-hosted by the Departments of State and Commerce, is a step toward building closer ties between the U.S. and Muslim communities worldwide.  In his remarks, President Obama noted recent efforts taken to strengthen partnership that include expanding educational exchanges, collaborating on global health issues with the Organization of Islamic Conference, and fostering innovation in science and technology.  He also noted steps the U.S. has taken to improve relations:

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MFAN Weighs In: Development Policy Debate Heats Up

Monday, April 26th, 2010
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WH

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post identified Patrick Cronin as a member of MFAN, which is incorrect.

Last week, the White House’s National Security Council convened its Deputies Committee, a gathering of high-level representatives from all the major agencies in government, to pave the way for the Presidential Study Directive on Global Development Policy (PSD) and the interim findings of the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) to be finalized.  As Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin reported, key issues have stalled action on the reviews.  MFAN Member Paul O’Brien of Oxfam America was quoted on the importance of development:

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