House Committee Begins Markup

July 20, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

This morning, the House Foreign Affairs Committee is considering a State Department-Foreign Assistance Reauthorization Bill, in what is expected to be a long and contentious markup.  The 161-page draft legislation, authored by Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), contains a number of significant policy changes, in addition to funding authorization levels that in some cases raise concerns. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Kerry is expected to introduce an alternative authorization bill next week. Stay tuned for more details from USGLC.

Must Reads

Who’s in the News

Hillary Rodham Clinton urges greater leadership role for India (William Wan, Washington Post)

Urging leadership in hotspots like Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as neighboring authoritarian regimes like Burma and Sri Lanka, Clinton’s hour-long speech boiled down to this essential message: With greater power — economic, diplomatic and military — comes greater responsibility. Regional stability depends on a improved relationship between India and Pakistan, Clinton said, as well as participation from both those countries in stabilizing Afghanistan and jumpstarting its economy.

Smart Power

The Price Is Right: How the world can buy its way out of poverty for just $100 billion (Charles Kenny, Foreign Policy)

Poverty is, of course, a highly relative concept, but the usual definition of “absolute” poverty is an income of less than $1.25 a day. And it is an increasingly manageable task to ensure no one on the globe lives below that income. There are already a lot fewer poor people living at that level of destitution than there used to be — indeed, less than half as many as there were 20 years ago.

Politics/Foreign Policy

New debt plan gains support in Senate; House passes balanced-budget measure (Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman, Washington Post)

President Obama and lawmakers in both parties latched on to a new strategy for reducing the federal debt Tuesday, saying an emerging plan to save $3.7 trillion over the next decade could help break a political impasse over the debt limit and avert a U.S. default. The proposal, crafted by a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Six,” calls for $500 billion in immediate savings and requires lawmakers in the coming months to cut agency spending, overhaul Social Security and Medicare, and rewrite the tax code to generate more than $1 trillion in fresh revenue.

The Debt Cap Showdown and the Developing World: Liliana Rojas-Suarez (Lawrence MacDonald, Center for Global Development Blogs)

The showdown in the U.S. is especially worrying, Liliana says, because of the U.S. dollar’s role as the international reserve currency. For developing countries, higher interests rates will mean less poverty-reducing economic growth and the increase in government financing costs will mean fewer anti-poverty programs. For households, higher interest rates and a reduction in the production of goods and services will mean higher prices.

At Kabul airport, exodus of U.S. aid goes on (Jason Ukman, Washington Post)

Kabul’s international airport has long been seen as a virtual black hole for foreign currency, the perfect venue through which travelers can smuggle out hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid that was intended for development projects. The airport represents only one of many potential loopholes when it comes to safeguarding U.S. cash, according to the new audit from the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, known as SIGAR.