The foreign-aid fight goes on
The State Department and Congress don’t see eye to eye on how to move forward with foreign-aid reform, but at least one Senator is firmly siding with Foggy Bottom: Jim Webb. When the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the Kerry-Lugar foreign aid reform on Monday, Webb spoke against the bill. He sent a follow-up letter, ...
The State Department and Congress don't see eye to eye on how to move forward with foreign-aid reform, but at least one Senator is firmly siding with Foggy Bottom: Jim Webb.
The State Department and Congress don’t see eye to eye on how to move forward with foreign-aid reform, but at least one Senator is firmly siding with Foggy Bottom: Jim Webb.
When the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the Kerry-Lugar foreign aid reform on Monday, Webb spoke against the bill. He sent a follow-up letter, obtained by The Cable, to Chairman John Kerry Wednesday to document his objections. Among them, Webb thinks the bill would add unnecessary and burdensome bureaucracy not focused on the problem at hand.
"I believe that the problems in foreign assistance effectiveness are largely those of poor leadership and supervision, to be solved by the streamlining of executive branch responsibilities rather than the creation of yet another layer of infrastructure," Webb wrote.
Webb was talking about the bill’s proposal to create a Council on Research and Evaluation of Foreign Assistance, or CORE, that would have oversight powers over all government foreign-assistance programs, a key component according to committee staffers.
He also referenced a letter sent Monday to Kerry by Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew, which called said the council "may be contrary to the underpinnings of the [Quadrennial Diplomacy and Defense Review]," which State is currently working on but won’t be finishing until sometime next year.
Lew said that he wants Congress to give State the "flexibility" to work out foreign-assistance management issues in the QDDR, which he is running with Policy Planning Chief Anne Marie Slaughter, and in the White House’s Presidential Study Directive, which is run by National Security Advisor Jim Jones and the National Economic Council’s Larry Summers. The QDDR is managed day to day by Karen Hanrahan and the PSD is managed by Gayle Smith.
Lew also pointed to the recent nomination of Rajiv Shah to be administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development and asked Kerry to give Shah time to review the current structures before new ones are created. Shah met with Kerry Thursday morning, according to committee staff, and Dec. 1 is being considered for his nomination hearing although nothing has been formally scheduled.
In the end, committee staffers say that the Kerry-Lugar bill is a marker to let Congress weigh in on foreign assistance and there are no immediate plans to try to advance the bill any further. But if the administration’s reviews don’t have strong accountability measures, congressional ideas such as the CORE could get increasing traction, despite the objections of Webb and Lew.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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