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Posts Tagged ‘howard berman’

MFAN Statement: Berman Lays Strong Legislative Foundation for Future of U.S. Foreign Assistance

Thursday, September 8th, 2011
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September 9, 2011 (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 commend House Committee on Foreign Affairs (HCFA) Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA) for introducing a discussion draft of the Global Partnerships Act of 2011. The draft legislation lays the foundations for a serious dialogue between the Congress, the Executive Branch, and civil society to reach consensus on legislation to replace America’s outdated and ineffective jumble of foreign assistance statutes.  The reforms proposed by Rep. Berman build on the work the last two Presidents – and Republicans and Democrats currently serving on HCFA – have done to make our efforts to alleviate poverty, improve health, and drive economic growth in poor countries more effective and accountable.

Development assistance programs are a key pillar of U.S. foreign policy in a complex world, working along with defense and diplomacy efforts to give the U.S. another all-important tool for responding to fast-moving events like the Arab Spring. This draft bill presents Members of Congress with a rare opportunity to work together to strengthen these programs and build a stronger foundation for U.S. foreign assistance. MFAN’s reform agenda is based on the following six policy pillars, and below each we have listed what we believe are the priority areas for action in the Global Partnerships Act of 2011.

Enact Modern Legislation

  • Articulates clear goals for U.S. foreign assistance. The draft legislation articulates seven distinct goals for advancing U.S. security, humanitarian, and economic interests, including addressing global poverty and human suffering and promoting sustainable economic growth through trade and investment. The original Foreign Assistance Act spelled out four clear priorities; 50 years later, that number has mushroomed to more than 140 goals, mandates, and overlapping directives—far too many to deliver foreign assistance in a focused and strategic way.
  • Requires the President to issue a comprehensive U.S. strategy for global development every four years. The first-ever global development policy launched by President Obama last September called for such a strategy, and in this time of tight budgets and scarce resources, we need a coherent strategy across the U.S. government to guide our investments.

Maximize Efficiencies

  • Ensures USG development policy coordination by mandating an interagency committee to oversee and coordinate all U.S. budgets, policies, strategies, and programs affecting developing countries.
  • Creates a Global Development Council to allow for meaningful engagement with private development stakeholders.

Prioritize Accountability

  • Establishes rigorous procedures for evaluating both the effectiveness and impact of development policies and programs, including a focus on gender equality.
  • Requires an online, publicly accessible database of information on U.S. foreign assistance, that would broaden and deepen the recently created Foreign Assistance Dashboard.

Increase Local Ownership

  • Seeks greater flexibilities, including a reduction in earmarks to better respond to local situations.
  • Establishes 3-5 year country strategies to guide how assistance is allocated.

Clarify Diplomacy and Development

  • Strengthens development authority and coordination in the field by making USAID Mission Directors the primary development advisors to the U.S. Chiefs of Mission.

Empower a 21st-Century Development Agency

  • Builds on key reforms at USAID, including improved capacity in the areas of policy and planning, budgeting, science, procurement, and personnel.
  • Elevates attention to development in interagency policy making by including the Administrator of USAID in relevant meetings of the National Security Council.

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 this week, we urge the Administration and Members of Congress to use Representative Berman’s bill, and the work done by other members of HCFA, as a platform for building bipartisan consensus on foreign assistance reform. Modernizing the statutory basis for our foreign assistance programs will strengthen the ability of the United States to more effectively address global challenges.

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.

Berman Applauds Obama’s New Development Policy, Eager to Partner on Foreign Aid Reform Legislation

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010
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Gayle_Berman-30Apr09-cropHouse Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) issued a statement today praising President Obama’s new development policy that was released yesterday in conjunction with his speech at the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit.

Calling it a “powerful speech” that makes a “bold commitment to United
States global leadership in international development,” Berman applauded the principles in the new policy that reflect the committee’s own work on foreign assistance reform over the past year, in particular a planned overhaul of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act.

He closed by saying he looks forward to partnering with the Administration on new legislation for this “top priority.”

Congress of the United States

House Committee on Foreign Affairs


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Foreign Aid Reform Top Priority for Berman, Administration

Washington, DC – Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, joined President Obama in making foreign aid reform a priority in alleviating poverty and strengthening U.S. national security.

“I welcome President Obama’s powerful speech at the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit, and his recognition that development is ‘not only a moral imperative, but a strategic and economic imperative.’  His bold commitment to United States global leadership in international development rests on a clear understanding that the purpose of development is ‘creating the conditions where assistance is no longer needed.’

“The Policy Directive the President signed yesterday echoes many of the themes and approaches of the foreign aid reform effort being undertaken by my committee. These include elevating and strengthening the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), underscoring the importance of country ownership and responsibility, improving coordination among U.S. government agencies and between the U.S. and other donors, expanding multilateral capabilities, leveraging more private resources, and setting in place rigorous procedures to evaluate the impact of policies and programs.

“Development assistance not only helps people to meet their basic needs and provide for their families, but also creates opportunities to expand markets for U.S. goods and services.  It strengthens our national security by ameliorating the conditions under which conflict, lawlessness and extremism often flourish.

“I look forward to working with the Administration to turn these principles into legislation that will maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of United States foreign assistance.”