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Chairman Risch Opening Statement at Oversight Hearing on the Millennium Challenge Corporation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today convened a full committee oversight hearing on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), with witness testimony from the Honorable Sean Cairncross, chief executive officer of the MCC.

Chairman Risch gave the following opening statement, as prepared for delivery:

“Fifteen years ago, Congress, the administration, and advocates for effective foreign aid united behind a simple concept: It is in the United States’ interest to help countries help themselves by breaking down the constraints to market-based growth. And from this concept, the Millennium Challenge Corporation was born.

“The MCC model recognizes that aid is most effective in countries that demonstrate continuous commitment to good governance, economic freedom, investing in their own people, and most importantly, a government free of economic corruption and theft. Its competitive, data-driven selection process creates an important incentive for countries to adopt difficult but necessary reforms.

“Its focus on accountability for results helps ensure that the impact of MCC investments will endure, long after a compact has ended. 

“And its commitment to transparency, monitoring, evaluation, and learning is helping the U.S. and others do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.

“Mr. Cairncross, expectations for MCC are high. You have taken the helm following an extended period of drift, during which time the agency has not performed and its commitment to the principals that make it special have been challenged. The American people deserve better. This moment, however, also presents an important opportunity to innovate and reinvigorate. 

“I note the board’s recent decision to hold Ghana responsible for failing to uphold the terms of its second compact – no doubt this was a difficult decision to reach. Terminating aid for a trusted ally of many years could not have been easy, but it was right. I trust that you will apply the same measure of accountability to other partners, should they be fail to maintain eligibility or stray from binding commitments.

“Moreover, I expect to see you hold the agency itself accountable. It is essential that MCC uphold its foundational principals – particularly its commitment to transparent, data-driven selection, design, and monitoring and evaluation processes – without undue political interference.            

“This hearing presents an important opportunity for you to set out your vision for MCC over the next 15 years. I am eager to hear how you intend to restore effective leadership; harness innovation; and accelerate regional economic integration through the use of concurrent compacts, particularly in Africa, where opportunities for growth and U.S. partnership transcend national boundaries. 

“I also want to learn more about MCC’s efforts to work with the newly established Development Finance Corporation to accelerate private sector-led growth, while providing a viable alternative to China’s malign development model.

“The stakes are high and the challenges are many, but I trust that you are up to the task. With that, I recognize the Ranking Member Menendez for his opening remarks.”

The witness testimonies are available on, as is an archived recording of the full hearing.