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Posts Tagged ‘house committee on foreign affairs’

Berman Defends Foreign Assistance

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
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Yesterday on the House Floor, Congressman Howard Berman, Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, spoke about the importance of the International Affairs Budget and why the Republicans’ proposed budget cuts  threaten American national security.

According to Congressman Berman, the proposed cuts by the GOP would:

• Scale back weapons and training to build the capacity of key partners in the fight against terror, such as Yemen, Pakistan, and the Philippines.
• Restrict financing for the purchase of U.S. military equipment to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge
• Limit defense items and services that enable other countries to cooperate with us on counter-terrorism efforts
• Put an end to the “civilian surge” in Afghanistan, leaving the military to perform civilian jobs
• Impede efforts to train Iraqi police and security forces

To read his full statement, click here.

Berman Hails Progress Toward Aid Reform

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010
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Washington, DC – Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, welcomed the administration’s release of a comprehensive reform agenda for the State Department and USAID, known as the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, or QDDR.

“Through the QDDR, Secretary Clinton and Administrator Shah have demonstrated their commitment to changing the way we do business and increasing the effectiveness, efficiency and accountability of our foreign affairs agencies. I look forward to working with them, along with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, to institutionalize durable reforms that protect national security, advance global prosperity and promote shared values.”

“The QDDR reinforces many of the findings and proposals that have emerged after more than two years of hearings, briefings and roundtable discussions in the House Foreign Affairs Committee. By giving our diplomats and development professionals the right tools, adequate resources, and the flexibility to try new approaches, we can deliver cost-effective results and restore the confidence of the American people that their tax dollars are well-spent.”

Chairman Berman Says It’s Time to Finish Foreign Aid Reform

Thursday, December 9th, 2010
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In a new piece in The Washington Times, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) calls for Congress and the Administration to complete and institutionalize their work to make foreign aid programs “more effective, more efficient and more accountable.”

HCFA_April 222009_042209 Hillary and BermanBerman applauds the initiative of the Obama Administration in pursuing two separate reviews of foreign assistance – the Presidential Study Directive that produced America’s first-ever government-wide global development policy, and the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) led by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development that is due out next week.  He cautions, however, that the “real challenge…will be to use the results of this review to implement meaningful reforms with lasting impact.” He goes on to say, “That’s where Congress comes in.”

The authorizing committee chairman points to his own efforts this Congress to rewrite the outdated, now 50-year old Foreign Assistance Act, and urges the both the Executive and Legislative branches of government to come together to enact “common-sense reforms.”

Here are the excerpted principles Berman lays out to ensure durable reform:

“Foreign assistance programs not only reflect American values and principles but serve as essential means for protecting U.S. economic, foreign-policy and security interests,” Berman concludes. “Only by mandating the new structures and processes in law can we establish the level of bipartisan support and executive-legislative consensus that will guard against backsliding and retrogression.”

To read the full article, click here.

CQ Article Reports on the Future of Foreign Aid Reform

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
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In an article out today, CQ reporter Emily Cadei writes about the fading opportunity for an overhaul of US foreign assistance given the Republican takeover of the House in Congress. Cadei notes that legislative efforts – particularly House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman’s Foreign Assistance Act rewrite – will face the most resistance from Republicans looking to use the fragmented system as a means to cut foreign aid funding altogether. Two MFAN members, Sarah Jane Staats of the Center for Global Development, and Greg Adams of Oxfam America were quoted in the piece. See key excerpts after the jump:

At the request of the Obama administration, Berman held off trying to move a bill while the White House and State Department conducted their own development policy reviews. The former was concluded in September, while State’s review still awaits release. Berman’s plan was to introduce a bill next year.

“Berman was very patient,” said Sarah Jane Staats, director of policy outreach at the Center for Global Development, which largely supported the chairman’s legislation. “Now we see maybe too patient.”

However, supporters of a foreign aid overhaul in the development community remain hopeful that with the completion of the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review in the coming weeks, the administration will step up its engagement with Capitol Hill.

Staats said the shift in control of the House could force the White House to be more proactive. It “will require the White House to work much more closely and negotiate . . . if they want to move forward on development,” she said.

Gregory Adams, director of aid effectiveness for Oxfam America, said Congress can respond to the administration’s new proposals — outlined in the president’s policy directive on development and the forthcoming quadrennial review — in fiscal 2012 appropriations.

Foreign Aid Ranks Among the President’s Foreign Policy Headaches

Thursday, November 11th, 2010
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USAID in Pakistan-AFP MehriIn a recent post, Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin reported on the top ten policy areas where President Obama will potentially face Republican opposition. Chief among them is foreign aid. Rogin speculates that the White House may turn to foreign policy as the Republican-controlled House pushes back on the President’s domestic agenda. Still, he notes that victories abroad are a sign of cooperation – and the Obama administration has a history of finding key support from Republicans in Congress (e.g. Afghanistan surge). Rogin’s list of foreign policy “headaches” includes: Afghanistan, the new START treaty, containing Iran, defense budget reform, civilian nuclear agreements, Syria, Cuba, free trade, and State Department nominations.  See below for some excerpts:

On Afghanistan: “On the civilian side, new prospective State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-Texas) is poised to use her control over civilian aid to press the case for taking a tougher line on Afghan President Hamid Karzai, as her predecessor Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) did in 2010.”

On foreign aid: “As a presidential candidate in 2008, Obama promised to double the foreign aid budget within five years. Likewise, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has promised to elevate development alongside defense and diplomacy as a key pillar of U.S. national security policy. Both those promises face increased resistance in Congress next year, as lawmakers look to make budget cuts in programs that lack strong domestic constituencies. “One of the main issue voters are talking about is out-of-control spending, and foreign aid won’t be exempt from cuts,” one GOP aide told The Cable.”

“The congressional drive to pass a wholesale reform of foreign-aid distribution has also been dealt a blow due to the GOP takeover of the House. The most comprehensive bill on this front was written by outgoing House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) — but his bill failed to move out of committee, and it’s unlikely that his successor, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), will take up the cause. Expect congressional Republicans to also resist large increases in the budget for the State Department, which is taking on increased roles all over the world, including in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sudan. The State Department’s budget for fiscal 2011 is still under consideration.”

On State Department nominations: “Senate Republicans have been holding up the nominations of scores of administration officials. The most visible holds are several U.S. ambassadorial nominees, such as Robert Ford to Syria, Frank Ricciardone to Turkey, Matthew Bryza to Azerbaijan, and Norm Eisen to the Czech Republic.”

“The nominations are held up by different senators for different reasons, some personal, some political. The increased GOP presence in the Senate won’t directly affect these nominations, but the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will have to approve the nominations again if they are not acted on this year.”