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USDA’s Rajiv Shah to be named USAID head

Senate Foreign Relations chairman John Kerry promised swift proceedings for Rajiv Shah, President Obama’s impending nominee for administration of the US Agency for International Development (USAID). In an interview with The Cable, Kerry said he has been notified that the White House has chosen Shah, the USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics and Chief Scientist, ...

Senate Foreign Relations chairman John Kerry promised swift proceedings for Rajiv Shah, President Obama’s impending nominee for administration of the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

In an interview with The Cable, Kerry said he has been notified that the White House has chosen Shah, the USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics and Chief Scientist, to head up USAID and will announce later today. Two administration officials also confirmed that the Shah announcement will come today.

"It’s terrific, we’ll move forward as soon as we can, I hope weeks," Kerry said. He said he wasn’t aware of any objections on the Republican side. Kerry will meet with Shah in the coming days, he said.

When asked if personally supported Shah, Kerry said, "Basically, in principle, unless I come across something that says otherwise."

Shah, 36, previously helped launch the Global Development program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Development groups were quick to praise the selection but also to call for increased powers for the USAID administrator role, which is now under review.

"Congress should confirm Dr. Shah quickly," said Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram in a statement, "We are hopeful that his unique combination of knowledge about global health, agriculture, and other issues will allow him to provide a strong and indispensable development voice as major decisions are made about U.S. foreign policy."

They called for Shah to receive a seat at the National Security Council, a lead role in the State Department’s Quadrennial Defense and Diplomacy Review, and they also implored the administration to return independent budget authority to USAID.

UPDATE: The nomination is now official. In a statement released to the press, President Obama said, “The mission of USAID is to advance America’s interests by strengthening our relationships abroad.   Rajiv brings fresh ideas and the dedication and impressive background necessary to help guide USAID as it works to achieve this important goal.  I am grateful for all that USAID has accomplished under the leadership of Acting Administrator Alonzo Fulgham, and the thousands of career men and women who fulfill USAID’s mission day in and day out – particularly their hard work in jumpstarting a landmark initiative to bring more than $20 billion for agriculture development to the world’s most food-insecure countries.  I look forward to working with Rajiv in the months and years ahead.”

Senate Foreign Relations chairman John Kerry promised swift proceedings for Rajiv Shah, President Obama’s impending nominee for administration of the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

In an interview with The Cable, Kerry said he has been notified that the White House has chosen Shah, the USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics and Chief Scientist, to head up USAID and will announce later today. Two administration officials also confirmed that the Shah announcement will come today.

"It’s terrific, we’ll move forward as soon as we can, I hope weeks," Kerry said. He said he wasn’t aware of any objections on the Republican side. Kerry will meet with Shah in the coming days, he said.

When asked if personally supported Shah, Kerry said, "Basically, in principle, unless I come across something that says otherwise."

Shah, 36, previously helped launch the Global Development program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Development groups were quick to praise the selection but also to call for increased powers for the USAID administrator role, which is now under review.

"Congress should confirm Dr. Shah quickly," said Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram in a statement, "We are hopeful that his unique combination of knowledge about global health, agriculture, and other issues will allow him to provide a strong and indispensable development voice as major decisions are made about U.S. foreign policy."

They called for Shah to receive a seat at the National Security Council, a lead role in the State Department’s Quadrennial Defense and Diplomacy Review, and they also implored the administration to return independent budget authority to USAID.

UPDATE: The nomination is now official. In a statement released to the press, President Obama said, “The mission of USAID is to advance America’s interests by strengthening our relationships abroad.   Rajiv brings fresh ideas and the dedication and impressive background necessary to help guide USAID as it works to achieve this important goal.  I am grateful for all that USAID has accomplished under the leadership of Acting Administrator Alonzo Fulgham, and the thousands of career men and women who fulfill USAID’s mission day in and day out – particularly their hard work in jumpstarting a landmark initiative to bring more than $20 billion for agriculture development to the world’s most food-insecure countries.  I look forward to working with Rajiv in the months and years ahead.”

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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