Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today convened a hearing to review the FY 2020 USAID Budget Request, with testimony from USAID Administrator Mark Green.
Chairman Risch gave the following opening statement, as prepared for delivery:
"This hearing will come to order. Today we will review the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request for the U.S. Agency for International Development, the lead development agency charged with advancing the economic, global health, and humanitarian interests of the United States overseas.
"I am pleased to welcome Administrator Mark Green, who brings to the table decades of development experience, a commitment to transparency and accountability, and a firm grasp of the purpose of foreign aid – which is to end the need for its existence.
"Under his leadership, USAID is undergoing an organizational transformation, intended to make the agency more efficient, effective, and adaptable to 21 st Century challenges.
"This transformation includes creating a unified Humanitarian Assistance Bureau, elevating stabilization and resilience programming, and ensuring that innovation cuts across all development sectors; bringing on a “Clear Choice Coordinator” to help identify ways to counter China’s malign development model; and pursuing procurement reform and an adaptive staffing plan which, if approved, may help USAID attract and retain needed talent in a more coherent and cost-effective manner.
"Over the coming year, this committee will examine how USAID and its implementing partners manage these changes. We also will monitor how USAID positions itself to cooperate, rather than compete, with the new International Development Finance Corporation in catalyzing private sector-led economic growth.
"Change is understandably difficult. But we should never allow bureaucratic inertia to prevent improvement.
"USAID has done a lot over the past 58 years to make Americans proud. Yet, as we sit in this room, nearly 70 million men, women, and children have been forcibly displaced from their homes – the highest number recorded in modern history.
"Additionally, an estimated 85 million people in 46 countries will need food aid this year, and the threat of famine persists in Yemen, South Sudan, and northeast Nigeria.
"The Ebola outbreak in Congo is spreading and the Taliban and Boko Haram continue to block polio vaccination efforts.
"And corrupt governments, weak institutions, food and water scarcity, climate shocks, pandemic health threats, and economic exclusion are fueling broader insecurity and creating opportunities for extremist groups to exploit vulnerable populations and threaten our interests.
"The challenges are daunting and the means to address them are limited, so it is incumbent upon this committee to carefully scrutinize the President’s foreign aid budget.
"The budget must be strategic, effective, and aligned with the most pressing national interests of the United States.
"It must eliminate duplication and waste. It must focus on breaking the chain of dependency by helping communities help themselves.
"And it must support a workforce at USAID that is capable and adaptable to the challenges we face in 2019 – not 1961.
"In any budget, difficult choices must be made. Investing in U.S. military readiness is a good choice. But undercutting effective diplomacy and development – which can help stabilize situations before they spin out of control, disrupt pandemic health threats before they cross our borders, and support the growth of healthier, more stable societies with whom we can trade rather than aid – is not.
"Mr. Administrator, I look forward to working with you over the coming years to ensure that USAID has the tools and the resources it needs to advance its critical mission.
"With that, I recognize Ranking Member Menendez for his opening remarks."
Witness testimony is available on foreign.senate.gov, as is an archived recording of the full hearing.