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Posts Tagged ‘senate foreign relations committee’

MFAN STATEMENT: Senate Must Confirm Dr. Rajiv Shah as USAID Administrator

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009
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December 8, 2009 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:

MFAN commends the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for unanimously approving Dr. Rajiv Shah’s nomination as Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).  We call on the full Senate to confirm Dr. Shah without delay for three key reasons:

  • Successful outcomes to our most pressing national security challenges, including the war in Afghanistan and instability in Pakistan, depend just as much on the effectiveness of in-country development programs as they do on our combat operations or diplomatic efforts.
  • The Obama Administration has launched major new initiatives to promote agricultural development/food security and global health in the world’s poorest countries.

The success of these efforts, each of which will save lives in the developing world and bolster security and prosperity at home, depends on Dr. Shah’s confirmation by the full Senate so that his voice can represent U.S. development policy and interests as part of these ongoing discussions.  Should he be confirmed, the Obama Administration must immediately take steps to empower Dr. Shah with the resources and authorities he needs to elevate development in U.S. foreign policy and rebuild USAID into the world’s premier development agency.  These steps include giving Dr. Shah a seat on the National Security Council and supporting the Senate’s efforts, through S.1524, to restore policy planning and monitoring and evaluation capabilities to USAID.

For more information, contact Sam Hiersteiner at shiersteiner@gpgdc.com or visit www.moderizeaid.net.

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.

Five Questions for USAID Confirmation Hearing

Monday, November 30th, 2009
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Raj ShahTomorrow, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Dr. Rajiv Shah, the Obama Administration’s nominee for Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

If confirmed, Dr. Shah would become the leading voice for U.S. efforts to alleviate poverty, fight disease, and create economic opportunity at a time when we face big challenges in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and across the developing world.  He will also step into the middle of a cross-government effort to reform U.S. foreign aid to make it more effective and accountable in the face of these challenges.

The following questions are critical to the success or failure of this transformative reform effort, and should be directed to Dr. Shah by members of the Committee tomorrow:

  • If development is to truly be a coequal partner to diplomacy and defense in the formulation of U.S. foreign policy, what does that mean for the role of USAID as the U.S. government’s primary development agency vis-à-vis the State Department and the Defense Department?
  • Given the strong support in the Obama administration for elevating development alongside diplomacy and defense, should the USAID Administrator have a seat at the National Security Council to serve as the voice of development in these interagency debates?
  • What are your top development priorities, and how do you see USAID’s role in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq?
  • How would broader foreign assistance reform – including reexamining the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act – serve to make U.S. development activities around the world more effective?
  • How do you propose to change USAID’s downward trajectory and steer its elevation and resurgence as a global leader on development?

Click here to read MFAN’s statement on Dr. Shah’s nomination.

Can You Match the Quote to the Senator Behind S.1524?

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009
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Test your skills on foreign aid reform and match the below quote with the Senator who gave it after yesterday’s 14-3 vote by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in favor of initial passage of the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009 (S.1524).  Leave your answers in the comments section of the blog (and we’ll provide the real answers soon):

The Quotes:

“This bill arises from the conviction that our investments in foreign assistance require much more effective coordination and much more thorough evaluation.  In the absence of reform, we will continue to spend billions each year without confidence that these funds are achieving the greatest development impact possible.”

“This legislation demonstrates Congress’s commitment to strengthening the capacity, accountability and effectiveness of our foreign aid programs.  With the U.S. facing critical foreign policy and development priorities worldwide, it is vital that we update our foreign aid programs to reflect the new challenges of the 21st century.  I look forward to working with the Administration to advance our shared goal of strengthening foreign aid.”

“I’ve been able to see our foreign assistance dollars in action and am proud of the role we are playing in producing positive change in the lives of millions around the world, but at the same time, I share the frustration of many Americans that our foreign assistance efforts have often lacked transparency, coordination, monitoring and evaluation.  This bill begins to reinvigorate USAID to improve the coordination, execution and efficiency of U.S. assistance so we can make each dollar go farther. The bill also establishes a body capable of evaluating the impact of our investments to make sure we are truly meeting our foreign policy objectives.”

“Reducing global poverty through development assistance is a moral imperative that also contributes to our national and economic security.  By providing greater resources to increase transparency and efficiency, the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act puts us on a glide path toward restoring this vital pillar of our foreign policy.”

“This legislation will position the State Department to make better programming and funding decisions by establishing more rigorous transparency mechanisms and authorizing an independent counsel to examine all of our foreign aid programs.  Accountability is critical to ensure our foreign aid programs are accomplishing the intended purposes for the benefit of the recipient country and U.S. taxpayers.”

“This is one of the most significant pieces of foreign assistance legislation that has passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in decades. I am proud that this is truly a bi-partisan bill, developed in a collaborative manner and that it includes input from a wide range of voices. These programs are critical to millions of people around the world, they contribute to our mutual economic health, and are in the direct national security interests of the United States. Furthermore, this legislation implements strong, new accountability and oversight provisions to ensure that foreign assistance is being used as intended and delivering a return on our investment. Today marks an important step, but it is just the beginning. I am committed to continue working with the Committee members and Administration to build up our foreign assistance programs, not just to where they used to be, but to where they need to be.”

The Senators:

john-kerry-newspaper-hearings1. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA)

Riga summit - Opening Gala Dinner of the Riga Conference - 27 No2. SFRC Ranking Minority Member Dick Lugar (R-IN)

US Iraq3. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ)

83985149BS001_SMIALOWSKI4. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN)

BenCardin5. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)

jim_risch-0x3006. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID)

Tell us your answers in the comments section.  The winner will receive undying affection from supporters of foreign assistance reform.

MFAN Statement: Initial Bill Passed by SFRC Adds to Aid Reform Momentum

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
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November 17, 2009 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:

Today, Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), Ranking Minority Member Richard Lugar (R-IN), and a bipartisan group of Senators took a concrete step towards making U.S. foreign assistance more effective by passing the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009 (S.1524) out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Following last week’s nomination of Dr. Raj Shah to be Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the bill proposes important changes that would give the new administrator the necessary tools to lead U.S. development efforts by implementing and coordinating the pieces of President Obama’s ambitious agenda.  Among other things, S.1524 would establish the promotion of global development, good governance, and the reduction of poverty and hunger as U.S. policy; rebuild the policy, strategic planning, and human resources capacity at USAID; and create an independent Council on Research and Evaluation of Foreign Assistance (CORE) to evaluate the impact of all U.S. foreign aid programs.

Building on the visionary leadership they have shown in the movement to reform U.S. foreign assistance, Chairman Kerry and Senator Lugar made a strong statement today about Congress’ firm commitment to elevating development as a core pillar of U.S. foreign policy, distinct from diplomacy and defense.  We hope that leaders in the Obama Administration will take note and work with both the Senate and the House of Representatives on their reform efforts.

CONTACT: Sam Hiersteiner at 202-295-0171 or shiersteiner@gpgdc.com.