March 23, 2021

Ranking Member Risch Opening Statement at Nomination Hearing for Samantha Power to be USAID Administrator

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today gave the following opening remarks at a full committee nomination hearing for the Honorable Samantha Power, nominee to be administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“Thank you Senator Menendez, I appreciate that. And Ambassador Power, thank you for agreeing to take this on. Thank you to your family. As the chairman noted, there’s always sacrifices that are shared, sometimes not equally, by the family.

“The role of USAID administrator is an important one, we all know that. In order to accomplish our goals as a nation, we need a development agency that reflects the challenges of the 21st century and is staffed and resourced to be strategic, efficient, effective, and accountable.

“USAID must be led by someone who understands that aid is most effective when it is targeted toward clearly defined U.S. national interests and those who are committed to advancing good governance, economic growth, and self-reliance.

“The challenges before us are immense. An estimated 80 million people globally have been displaced from their homes – 26 million of whom are now refugees. The conflict in Syria has entered its 10th year and has left more than 12 million people food insecure. Ebola has re-emerged in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And the COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered schools, destroyed livelihoods, and pushed millions of people into poverty around the world.

“USAID has a successful record of responding to emergencies, and we will count on the next administrator to put dollars provided for humanitarian assistance to good use. The agency has also done tremendous work in combatting food insecurity, expanding access to water, and empowering women to participate in their economies.

“USAID needs to work on coordination with the CDC. This is why the largest U.S. global health program, PEPFAR, is coordinated by the Department of State.

“As we continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, I look forward to working with the Department, USAID, the CDC, and my colleagues here in Congress on a more comprehensive approach to global health security and diplomacy.

“Senator Menendez and I have been discussing that issue in particular, and we have talked about a path forward to where we can get a bipartisan piece of legislation that will be one of the most important things we do as far as global health is concerned and as far as the people of the world are concerned. We must put in the work now so we can get ahead of the next pandemic and keep Americans safe from infectious disease threats before they cross our borders again.

“We should also maximize the impact of U.S. contributions to COVAX through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and through the Global Fund’s COVID-19 response mechanism.

“Beyond pandemics, I am interested to learn more about how you, if confirmed, will position USAID to counter China’s malign developmental model – that model is something that many of us consider to be one of the greatest threats to U.S. national security.

“I would also like to better understand your view on promoting democracy, good governance and the rule of law – the foundations of healthy and stable societies.

“The United States cannot, should not, and shouldn’t even consider singlehandedly trying to solve the world’s problems. Difficult choices must be made. But while the administrator is not empowered to make those choices independently – USAID does remain under the foreign policy direction of the secretary of State – I am pleased to see that the next administrator will have a seat at the principal’s table on critical matters of development and humanitarian response.

“If confirmed, I am eager to work with you to ensure that USAID remains strategic, focused, and accountable.

“Thank you, Senator Menendez.”

These remarks have been lightly edited for clarity. Witness testimony is available on foreign.senate.gov.

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