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.