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MFAN Statement: RSC Budget Proposal Would Derail Progress on Foreign Assistance Reform

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January 26, 2010 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann, George Ingram, and Jim Kolbe:

We strongly oppose last week’s Republican Study Committee budget proposal, which would cut all operating expenses at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  The cuts would derail the comprehensive reform agenda underway inside the agency, at a time when its ability to perform effectively is crucial to our national security, our economic interests, and the lives and well-being of millions of the world’s most vulnerable people.

USAID is a crucial partner of the United States military in “frontline states” including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, where the agency’s civilian development professionals train security forces, support efforts to bolster democracy and the rule of law, and improve quality of life for people in areas where extremism thrives.  Secretary of Defense Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen, and Afghanistan Commander Petraeus have called for strengthening these civilian programs, noting that the military does not want, and is not designed or equipped to carry, the extra burden of leading development programs.  Secretary Gates also said recently that helping countries develop “is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.”

The agency also builds critical agricultural growth programs, entrepreneurship initiatives, and community health efforts that help developing countries, the fastest growing markets in the world, mature and become better partners for U.S. exports and investment.  Just as the U.S. supported the Green Revolution in agricultural development in the 20th century – which helped countries like South Korea become strong trading partners and stalwart allies – we must continue this work by supporting the growth of vibrant private sectors and healthy middle classes, thriving civil societies, and empowered citizens in developing countries.

Most importantly, USAID Administrator Raj Shah is making progress on a tough reform agenda that would decrease inefficiencies; make the agency more selective, accountable and better at evaluating results; “graduate” countries that no longer need U.S. assistance; and uphold economic growth and empowered citizens as core goals of all development efforts.  We believe this reform effort must be given a chance to succeed, and we hope bipartisan Members of Congress will play a constructive role in making the agency more effective and accountable by helping to enshrine these and other foreign assistance reforms in law.

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One Response to “MFAN Statement: RSC Budget Proposal Would Derail Progress on Foreign Assistance Reform”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jenni Rothenberg, MFAN News. MFAN News said: MFAN: RSC Budget Proposal Would Derail Critical Reforms @USAID http://bit.ly/e4LfV2 #development #USAID50 [...]

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