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Posts Tagged ‘menendez’

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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Susan Collins (R-ME) Signs on to S.1524

Friday, December 18th, 2009
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Susan CollinsS.1524, the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act, first introduced by Senators Kerry, Lugar, Menendez, and Corker has gained another Republican cosponsor.  Susan Collins, the Republican Senator from Maine, signed on yesterday–bringing the total number of cosponsors up to 23, with 7 Republican Senators.

See below for a complete list of cosponsors of the bill:


S. 1524 12 18

Kerry: Shah given opportunity to enact “bold and far-reaching reform agenda.”

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009
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091110_rjs_portraitAt yesterday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee nomination hearing for USAID Administrator nominee Dr. Rajiv Shah, the nominee spoke eloquently about the role he intends to play in rebuilding America’s premier development agency into a leading global institution.  He also pledged to prevent further fragmentation of U.S. development programs and said he would be deeply involved in parallel reviews of U.S. development policy being done at the White House and State Department – the cross-government Presidential Study Directive (PSD) on Global Development Policy and the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), respectively.

In their opening statements, the Committee’s two highest ranking members underscored the importance of reforming U.S. foreign assistance and the unique opportunity created by reform efforts already underway including SFRC’s bipartisan Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act (S.1524).  Ranking Member Lugar said S.1524 is an “essential input into this [reform] process” and that it “has attracted the strong support of most development groups, led by the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network.”  Chairman Kerry said, “This is a moment of significant challenge and change, fluidity, at USAID. But it’s also a moment when people across government recognize that empowering our development agencies and giving them the resources they need is absolutely essential to achieving our larger foreign-policy goals.”  Lugar (R-IN) followed by saying, “USAID must be a full participant in policy making and budgeting. It also must be able to independently evaluate the effectiveness of foreign assistance programs and provide coordination between agencies.”

Before Mr. Shah began his testimony, he was introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), who described him as a “strong, creative, and results-driven leader” whose “nomination sends a clear signal that development and humanitarian aid are core components of U.S. foreign policy.”  Mr. Shah’s testimony covered his experience at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and his brief stint at the Department of Agriculture, as well as his vision for restoring capacity at USAID and making it responsive to 21st-century challenges.

Mr. Shah said, “It is an honor to appear before this Committee as the nominee for USAID Administrator at a time when there is such broad, bipartisan recognition of both the importance of development to our foreign policy and the critical need to improve the way we work to help achieve it. I would suggest that not since the founding of USAID in 1961 and the passage of the Foreign Assistance Act have we had such an opportunity to fundamentally re-imagine our nation’s development strategy and strengthen the organization that leads it.”

John KerryRichard LugarBob Menendez

Many of the questions directed at Mr. Shah communicated a sense of frustration with the Administration over the lack of consultation with Congress regarding the QDDR and the PSD.  Mr. Shah was asked to describe not only his vision for restoring USAID, but list specific steps he could take immediately toward reforming U.S. foreign assistance.  In response to Chairman Kerry’s question about his vision for USAID, Mr. Shah said, “we need to give our mission directors and our staff in countries the flexibility and the tools to think long term. We need to reinvest in the planning and evaluation capacities at AID…And we need to look at our contracting system and how we work with our external implementing partners to benefit from the areas where we do that well with great efficiency but improve on areas where we can save money and achieve outcomes more efficiently.”

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who chairs the Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, asked Mr. Shah directly about the line of reporting given the creation of the “F” Bureau at the State Department under the Bush Administration, which migrated many of USAID’s functions over to State and created the Director of Foreign Assistance title.  Mr. Shah responded that he would be “responsible for the development budget and the AID budget, and…engaged deeply with other key partners that are making those determinations, at OMB and elsewhere.”  More importantly, he will “absolutely” have a direct line of communication with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Other questions focused on specific sectors of development, asking Mr. Shah how he plans to engage with respect to global food security, global health, education, and good governance.  At the conclusion of the hearing, Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) noted his confidence that Mr. Shah would be confirmed and that he would do everything he could to “expedite” the process.

Click here for Shah’s Responses to Kerry’s Questions for the Record.

Click here for a Full Transcript of the Shah Nomination Hearing .

Foreign Assistance Reform is Major Topic of Discussion at Shah Nomination Hearing

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009
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Earlier today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) held a confirmation hearing for Dr. Rajiv Shah, the Obama Administration’s nominee to be administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID).  Present at the hearing were Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Minority Member Richard Lugar (R-IN), as well as Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ted Kaufman (D-DE) and Jim Webb (D-VA).  Below are key excerpts from the hearing:

Chairman Kerry:  “First, we must decide whether USAID will remain the principal US development agency, and whether the Administration is committed to streamlining the proliferation of departments and agencies handling foreign assistance programs today. Second, we need to strike the proper balance between the State Department and USAID…Third, we have to ask tough questions about whether USAID’s growing national security mission is compatible with its development aims.”

Ranking member Lugar:  ”There is a broad consensus among development experts that the loss of these functions at USAID is inhibiting the success of our development programs.  Our development efforts will never be as effective as they should be if the agency that houses most of our development expertise is cut out of our relevant policy and budgetary decisions.”

USAID Administrator Nominee Shah:  ”USAID must become a more agile, focused, flexible agency that is accountable to Congress and the American people.”

Shah:  ”If confirmed, I plan to work with this committee and consult with the broader development community and those it seeks to impact to help craft and implement a development strategy that delivers on the President’s and Secretary’s vision of USAID as the world’s premiere development agency.”

Senator Menendez:  ”I believe as many others do that USAID has been decimated” and that this is a “great disservice to our country.”  We need USAID to be a “full participant” in policymaking and budget decisions.