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Archive for August, 2011

CCEFA Profile: Rep. Hank Johnson

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011
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See below for our latest Congressional Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance (CCEFA) profile of the Congressman from Georgia, Hank Johnson. We’ve already profiled the Co-Chairs Ander Crenshaw and Adam Smith, as well as Representatives Keith EllisonDenny RehbergLaura RichardsonDennis RossAaron Schock, and Lynn Woolsey. Stay tuned for more!

Hank Johnson (D)

District: Georgia’s 4th

Twitter: @RepHankJohnson

Committees:

  • Committee on Armed Services
    • Subcommittee on Sea Power and Projection F
    • Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities
  • Committee on the Judiciary
    • Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law
    • Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
    • Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy (Chairman, 111th Congress 2009-10)

Congressman Johnson comes to the CCEFA with extensive experience in the realm of military and judicial affairs and an equally firm commitment to aiding and empowering the developing world.  As a member of both the Armed Services and Judiciary Committees, he will serve as an important complement to many of his CCEFA colleagues, who focus their committee work more on social and humanitarian affairs.

Through his legislative efforts, Rep. Johnson has proven himself to be a champion of foreign development.  He cosponsored the African Investment and Diaspora Act, which is expected to facilitate broadened socio-economic relations between the U.S. and the African continent in the months and years to come, and which—at its heart—embraces the idea of helping African countries help themselves.  Recognizing the inherent contradiction between development and violence, Rep. Johnson was one of the leading voices in Congress to appeal to the warring parties of Uganda; he introduced and passed a resolution on behalf of the U.S. Federal Government and international community imploring the factions at odds to resolve their civil conflict.  Additionally, like other members of the CCEFA, Rep. Johnson cosponsored the Global Sexual and Reproductive Health Act of 2011.  As a proponent of each of the three distinct, yet crucial measures, the Congressman has demonstrated his understanding of the need to address development with a holistic approach.  Along with a clear voting record that reflects his support for U.S. foreign assistance programs, this philosophy will be much appreciated on the CCEFA.

 

Foreign Aid a Top Issue for Congress According to Foreign Policy

Monday, August 8th, 2011
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Last week, Foreign Policy staff writer Josh Rogin came out with a list of eight foreign policy “fights” Congress will face when it returns from its August recess. Ranked among free trade and the war in Libya is foreign aid reform.

Rogin writes:

Everyone agrees that the foreign aid system is broken. Over-outsourcing, poor monitoring, and a lack of cohesion and accountability have plagued the U.S. aid system for decades. However, nobody in Congress agrees on exactly how to fix it.

Back in early 2010, there were a lot of good ideas being thrown around. Kerry proposed in a State Department authorization bill to strengthen the U.S. Agency for International Development, and Lugar made big speeches about the need to keep diplomacy and development as distinct disciplines within the government. Meanwhile, the State Department took two years to craft a landmark Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review that sought to join diplomacy and development together bureaucratically and conceptually. Congress and the State Department had different visions on how diplomacy and development should work together, but at least they were both working on the problem.

The November 2010 midterm elections, which brought the GOP to power in the House, dashed many of these grandiose plans. The GOP gains meant that the money needed to reform the aid system and fund new programs vanished. The budget hawks led by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)immediately promised to slash aid budgets. Leading Republicans also changed the terms of the aid debate, focusing on the question of whether the United States should give money to problematic allies and complicated territories — most notably Pakistan, Lebanon, and the Palestinian Authority.

In today’s climate, foreign-aid advocates now spend all their time defending their existing programs rather than working on reform and expansion of aid. Meanwhile, the House GOP continues to try to thwart programs, though it doesn’t have the power to do so by itself because its one-sided, partisan bills have no chance of becoming law. The result is a nasty stalemate — a familiar feature in Congress as the country heads into the 2012 presidential season.

We couldn’t agree more. And with last week’s Budget Control Act, which caps security spending even below what the House was considering for security-related spending which includes State/Foreign Operations, foreign assistance and current efforts to reform will face an uphill battle. Read Rogin’s full piece here.

 

MFAN Partner ONE Reflects on the MCC

Friday, August 5th, 2011
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MFAN’s recent event took a close look at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and how its principles and operational model are aligning with the President’s Policy on Global Development and overall efforts to improve aid effectiveness. ONE’s  Marissa Glauberman wrote about our event on their blog and addressed some of the additional opportunities and challenges facing the MCC today. Read the full post here and see below for an excerpt:

There is living proof that MCC’s development programs both reduce poverty abroad and create opportunities for American companies. In 2008, the MCC signed a $698 million compact with Tanzania that granted two American companies, Symbion Power and Pike Electric with the ability to build more than 20 power substations and install 1,000 miles of power lines in Tanzania. These roads have stimulated economic growth by improving transportation networks that connect communities with markets, schools and health care.

As the three speakers made clear, the MCC has had setbacks and challenges on their journey to discovering the most effective sustainable development methods. They have shared this lessons in a new report, “Ten Lessons: What MCC has learned putting its ‘focus on results’ principle into practice.”

 

CCEFA Profile: Rep. Lynn Woolsey

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011
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See below for our latest Congressional Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance (CCEFA) profile of the Congresswoman from California, Lynn Woolsey. We’ve already profiled the Co-Chairs Ander Crenshaw and Adam Smith, as well as Representatives Keith EllisonDenny RehbergLaura Richardson, Dennis Ross, and Aaron Schock. Stay tuned for more!

Lynn Woolsey (D)

District: California’s 6th

Twitter: @replynnwoolsey

Committees:

  • Committee on Education and the Workforce
    • Workforce Protections: Ranking Member
    • Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education
  • Committee on Science, Space and Technology
    • Energy and the Environment

Representative Woolsey is a unique fixture in Congress.  Serving her 10th term in the House of Representatives and consistently promoting innovative social programs on the floor, she brings both a progressive voice and level-headed experience to CCEFA.  This combination stems from her impressive line of committee work in concert with her deep-seated commitment to social issues.  As a high ranking member on the Committee on Education and the Workforce, Rep. Woolsey recognizes the importance of providing educational opportunities to youth both in the U.S. and the developing world.  Connected to her focus on education is Rep. Woolsey’s considerable investment in enacting “family-friendly policies.”  As President of Americans for Democratic Action, Rep. Woolsey has been a steadfast supporter of federal assistance to families in need and she will undoubtedly transfer this passion to CCEFA.

With resilience and determination, Rep. Woolsey has turned her ideals into concrete legislative action on multiple occasions.  She sponsored House Resolution 20, in which she implored the Senate to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).  This action, coupled with her co-sponsorship of the International Women’s Freedom Act of 2011, demonstrate that Rep. Woolsey is resolved to promote women’s rights abroad with equal fervency as she does on the home front.  Going further, Rep. Woolsey also co-sponsored the Global Sexual and Reproductive Health Act of 2011. Aimed to improve social and emotional well-being for people in the developing world, this bill pushes an agenda squarely in line with the principles of CCEFA.  A zealous advocate for promoting social change, Rep. Woolsey will be a welcome presence in the Caucus.

 

MFAN Event Recap: On the Cutting Edge of Aid Effectiveness

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011
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On July 28, MFAN  hosted a public dialogue on the foreign assistance reform agenda with Sheila Herrling, the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) Vice President for Policy and Evaluation, and Gayle Smith, Senior Director at the National Security Council (NSC). Entitled “On the Cutting Edge of Aid Effectiveness: Best Practices and Lessons Learned from the Millennium Challenge Corporation,” the event was moderated by MFAN Co-Chair the Hon. Jim Kolbe, Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund, and brought together a cross-section of development perspectives. The panelists examined how the MCC was working both independently and alongside USAID and other relevant agencies to maximize the effectiveness, accountability, and efficiency of U.S. foreign assistance dollars.

The MCC’s Sheila Herrling spoke about development best practices adopted by the MCC in pursuit of the organization’s “results agenda.” The MCC’s structure, small size, and unique mandate enables flexibility, specifically by establishing objective indicators, remaining independent of Congressional earmarks, choosing which countries will receive Compacts, and permitting  partnerships of longer duration.  Herrling acknowledged that while the MCC has had mixed results overall, several clear achievements stand out, such as farmer training projects in Honduras. She emphasized that the MCC was committed to transparency, and that all data from MCC programs, positive or negative, would be easily accessible.  Additionally, the MCC aims to return more than a dollar for every dollar spent on foreign assistance by growing the per capita income of its beneficiaries.

Herrling also addressed the MCC’s incentive effect, using the example of partner countries changing laws to improve women’s legal rights in advance of MCC Threshold programs or Compacts. Proactive policy, legal, and economic reforms made by partner countries demonstrate that the MCC is changing the dialogue between the U.S. and developing countries seeking to graduate from its foreign assistance.

The NSC’s Gayle Smith spoke about elevating foreign assistance as a foreign policy priority within the White House, and lauded the progress made by the interagency contact group on development in disseminating information on best practices and improving communication and consultation within the numerous agencies that contribute to U.S. foreign assistance. Smith addressed the steps being taken in the MCC and across the government to encourage country ownership. She said that more positive and sustainable development outcomes can be realized when governments are held accountable and allow their citizens to participate.  She also commented on the increased emphasis on selectivity in determining where U.S. foreign assistance dollars are spent, which will effectively end the approach that, “does a little bit of everything, everywhere.”  Selectivity is based on pure development criteria, but with the goal of making informed and tough choices when deciding what not to do and when to allow other donor nations to take the lead.

Smith categorized the Partnership for Growth—an experimental new initiative that promotes and supports broad-based economic growth in a select group of emerging markets—as the essence of President Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development.  She said that the Partnership for Growth is employing the MCC criteria as a tool, and that partner countries have embraced it as a strategic economic dialogue with the U.S. Although still in its early stages, the Partnership for Growth is advancing toward its goal of moving more countries, “from development dependence to emerging, emerging markets.”

Stay tuned for a video of the event!