Press Room

MFAN Relaunches the Congressional Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance

September 25, 2023
Karen Swatson, MFAN Associate

The bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance was officially relaunched on September 20th in an event hosted by MFAN on Capitol Hill that featured new caucus co-chairs Reps. Young Kim (R-CA) and Adam Smith (D-WA), and former USAID Administrators Ambassador Mark Green (Ret.), President & CEO of the Wilson Center, and Gayle Smith, CEO of the ONE Campaign. Rep. Kim is the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Indo-Pacific; Rep. Smith is the senior Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) speaking on the importance of U.S. development initiatives around the world and how better coordination and collaboration in the USG among agencies involved with foreign assistance and along with external partners can boost more impact.

Since its creation in 2011, the Caucus has served as an important platform for advancing bipartisan consensus on aid effectiveness issues on Capitol Hill and spurring the adoption of several pieces of legislation, including the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act (FATAA) in 2016 and the BUILD Act in 2018 (which created the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation).

Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) speaking about the importance of ensuring that every aid dollar is maximized wide and far. She noted that the caucus will bring innovative ideas to the table.

First launched in the House in 2011 by Congressman Smith and former Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), the Caucus serves as a forum for Members of Congress and their staff to examine the way the United States currently delivers foreign assistance, explore success stories in the delivery of assistance, and identify ways to improve U.S. foreign assistance and development to maximize its impact and benefit. The Caucus focuses on issues related to aid effectiveness and its intersection with economic development, poverty reduction, health, and peace and stability. Through meetings, roundtables, and briefings, the Caucus engages with civil society, private sector stakeholders, and relevant federal agencies to foster dialogue with Members and staff.

Tessie San Martin, CEO of FHI 360 (left) moderates discussion with guest speakers Ambassador Mark Green, President & CEO of the Wilson Center (center), and Gayle Smith, CEO of the ONE Campaign (right), former USAID Administrators during the Obama and Trump administrations

Guests at the Relaunch of the Congressional Caucus of Effective Foreign Assistance hosted by MFAN and Reps. Young Kim (R-CA) and Adam Smith (D-WA).

Relaunching the Congressional Caucus underscored the importance of making sure that U.S. foreign assistance agencies have well-resourced, modern, and innovative development toolkits to boost their impact and return on investment.

When asked why foreign assistance matters, Ambassador Green highlighted the important role of past successes in shaping lives and building a better, more prosperous world. Similarly, Gayle Smith, explained that foreign assistance is one of the few spaces where there is bipartisan support, signaling that the United States views development as an important priority.

Below are some highlights from the event on advancing foreign aid effectiveness:

  • Foreign aid should build on the legacy of successes to reshape countries from aid recipients to partners.
  • There should be sufficient Hill engagement on not only the importance of foreign aid but on the successes and challenges of ongoing programs to thwart misconceptions that may hinder the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance.
  • Providing the necessary assistance and incentives to make private investment possible.
  • Draw on success stories using data driven analysis by supporting evidence-based development programs, building on accountability and principles of monitoring, evaluation, and learning.

While there have been successes, there are also key areas that should be prioritized for continued progress:

  • Building, expanding, and leveraging the USG’s collaboration within the scope of foreign assistance.
  • Strengthening the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance in the areas of transparency, monitoring and evaluation, thereby improving data quality and transparency of U.S. aid programming.
  • Defining the meaning of success and having clear goals of what to achieve.
  • Prioritizing investments that target the specific needs of countries and recognizing the important role of private sector initiatives

Watch the full event here

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