The Cable

Richard Lugar opens the Lugar Center in Washington

Former Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar has opened up a new policy organization in Washington, D.C., focused on non-proliferation, food security, and foreign-aid reform. Several former Lugar Senate staffers have come together to make the Lugar Center a reality. Lugar spoke about his new project Tuesday in an interview with The Cable. "The idea of the ...

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Former Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar has opened up a new policy organization in Washington, D.C., focused on non-proliferation, food security, and foreign-aid reform.

Several former Lugar Senate staffers have come together to make the Lugar Center a reality. Lugar spoke about his new project Tuesday in an interview with The Cable.

"The idea of the Lugar Center is that we would have a nonprofit organization devoted to finding solutions and proposing new policies on issues that I have worked on for decades," Lugar said. "Our idea is that we will operate with the goal of trying to build bridges across the tough divide in our current political scene."

The center will employ full-time policy experts to formulate proposals and communicate them to policymakers both in the executive branch and on Capitol Hill. The center will also place fellows and interns in congressional offices to help push Lugar’s work forward.

"We want create opportunities for consensus-building and get the word out," Lugar said.

The center’s work also dovetails nicely with Lugar’s new academic projects, which include new ties to both the University of Indianapolis and Indiana University, where Lugar is teaching and co-chairing an advisory committee with former Rep. Lee Hamilton.

The center’s work will be avowedly bipartisan, Lugar said.

"When I was in the Senate I was able to make an appeal successful year by year to enhance the intensity of the non-proliferation programs. The national interest impelled that people think about this. I think it will be a similar case with world food problems," he said.

Along those lines, Lugar will be making a speech Tuesday afternoon at Georgetown University and introducing USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah at a Wednesday event on food assistance at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies. Shah is about to roll out a new proposal that would transition U.S. food assistance away from American farmers under the Food For Peace program and toward local procurement of food aid abroad.

Lugar supports this initiative.

"Food for Peace was created to try to help out the American agricultural scene by making certain there were markets for our farmers and jobs for people in the transportations and shipping industry. Some of that may from time to time still be required," Lugar said. "But Raj Shah will outline a situation where a majority of the food supplies will be purchases on site and delivered there and that is a step forward in terms of the humanitarian effort and the efficiency of the project.’

In his Georgetown speech, Lugar will emphasize the need for bipartisanship even at the cost of political advantage, something Lugar knows about all too well.

"I would define true bipartisanship as the suspension of the pursuit of political advantage in the interest of doing something necessary for our country," Lugar will say, according to prepared remarks. "Implicitly, it assumes that there are times when politics have to be subordinated to policy objectives. True bipartisan leaders take electoral risks in the interests of good governance."

 Twitter: @joshrogin

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