November 17, 2009

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Approves Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009

Washington, D.C.--- Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Dick Lugar (R-IN), along with Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Senator Bob Corker (R-TN),Senator James Risch (R-ID)and SenatorBen Cardin (D-MD), released the statements below following today's business meeting where the Committee ordered reported by a roll call vote, S.1524, the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009.

"I am pleased to join with many of my colleagues in passing the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009," said Chairman Kerry. "This legislation demonstrates Congress's commitment to strengthening the capacity, accountability and effectiveness of our foreign aid programs. With the U.S. facing critical foreign policy and development priorities worldwide, it is vital that we update our foreign aid programs to reflect the new challenges of the 21st century. I look forward to working with the Administration to advance our shared goal of strengthening foreign aid."

"This bill arises from the conviction that our investments in foreign assistance require much more effective coordination and much more thorough evaluation," said Senator Lugar. "In the absence of reform, we will continue to spend billions each year without confidence that these funds are achieving the greatest development impact possible."

Senator Menendez said, "This is one of the most significant pieces of foreign assistance legislation that has passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in decades. I am proud that this is truly a bi-partisan bill, developed in a collaborative manner and that it includes input from a wide range of voices. These programs are critical to millions of people around the world, they contribute to our mutual economic health, and are in the direct national security interests of the United States. Furthermore, this legislation implements strong, new accountability and oversight provisions to ensure that foreign assistance is being used as intended and delivering a return on our investment. Today marks an important step, but it is just the beginning. I am committed to continue working with the Committee members and Administration to build up our foreign assistance programs, not just to where they used to be, but to where they need to be."

"I've been able to see our foreign assistance dollars in action and am proud of the role we are playing in producing positive change in the lives of millions around the world, but at the same time, I share the frustration of many Americans that our foreign assistance efforts have often lacked transparency, coordination, monitoring and evaluation," said Senator Corker, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance. "This bill begins to reinvigorate USAID to improve the coordination, execution and efficiency of U.S. assistance so we can make each dollar go farther. The bill also establishes a body capable of evaluating the impact of our investments to make sure we are truly meeting our foreign policy objectives."

"This legislation will position the State Department to make better programming and funding decisions by establishing more rigorous transparency mechanisms and authorizing an independent counsel to examine all of our foreign aid programs. Accountability is critical to ensure our foreign aid programs are accomplishing the intended purposes for the benefit of the recipient country and U.S. taxpayers," said U.S. Senator James Risch.

"Reducing global poverty through development assistance is a moral imperative that also contributes to our national and economic security. By providing greater resources to increase transparency and efficiency, the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act puts us on a glide path toward restoring this vital pillar of our foreign policy," said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations International Development and Foreign Assistance Subcommittee.