Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Foreign Aid Reform: It's No Longer a Unicameral Effort!

We just learned today that the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee has introduced its own version of foreign-aid reform. It's a companion piece to HR2139

The bill, called The Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009, S.1524,
has some powerful bipartisan support from the get-go. The bill was introduced by committee chair Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and ranking member Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), along with Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bob Corker (R-TN). Two other committee members, Sens. James Risch (R-ID) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), joined as original cosponsors.

The committee decided to introduce the bill after hearing from Bread for the World President David Beckmann last week. He was invited to testify on behalf of a broad coalition that supports foreign aid reform, including Bread for the World.

So what to do next?

Please call or write Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall asking them to add their names to the lists of co-sponsors of S.1524.
In the press release announcing the introduction of the bill, committee members called it "an important first step" toward comprehensive foreign aid reform. They said the bill would ensure that the United States is appropriately equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century. One of the top priorities of the bill is to increase the capacity of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to deliver effective and accountable programs and the broader capacity of all our foreign aid programs.

Here's what Sen. Kerry said:

“I believe this legislation will go a long way toward improving our immediate ability to deliver foreign aid in a more accountable, thoughtful and strategic manner,” said Chairman Kerry. “We need cutting edge programs that will push the envelope on ending chronic poverty, combating global climate change, reducing hunger, supporting democracies, and offering alternatives to extremism.”
And here's what Sen. Lugar said:

“The issues that we face today – from chronic poverty and hunger to violent acts of terrorism – require that we work seamlessly toward identifiable goals. The U.S. has increased development funding and elevated its priority. Yet USAID has been allowed to atrophy. Many new programs are located outside USAID in roughly two dozen departments and agencies. We don’t really know whether these programs are complementary or working at cross-purposes,” Lugar said. “Our bill seeks to better evaluate programs, improve coordination among agencies and enhance staff development and training.”
Read full text of press release from Senate Foreign Affairs Committee

Please stay tuned for more updates

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