On Capitol Hill

October 4, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Today the House takes up a continuing resolution to fund the government through November 18th before the current CR expires tomorrow.  This afternoon, USGLC’s Senior Director Mark Green and Board Member John Murphy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will testify before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade to discuss the importance of multilateral development banks (MDBs) for our national security and economic prosperity.

Must Reads

Who’s In The News

Rajiv Shah heads to Kenya and Ethiopia (Josh Rogin, The Cable)
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah is on a plane right now on the way to Kenya and Ethiopia, where he will be touring areas affected by the worst drought the region has seen in over six decades. “I’m going to Kenya and Ethiopia to visit with heads of state and senior leadership as well as to pull together the humanitarian and NGO communities to assess progress on the challenges that the drought has brought to the Horn of Africa,” Shah said in an interview with The Cable on his way to the airport. He won’t be going to Somalia, however, which has been ravaged by a famine that shows little sign of abating. Shah said there are good reasons why Ethiopia and Kenya are doing better than Somalia — beyond the fact that the al-Shabab extremist group in Somalia is getting in the way of delivering aid.

Spotted: Mandy Moore and Barbara Bush (Caitlin McDevitt, Politico)

Pop singer Mandy Moore and former first daughter Barbara Bush discussing global health issues at the Newseum on Monday.  Moore spoke about malaria prevention and a trip to Cameroon that she took with a bipartisan congressional delegation in August. Bush, wearing a bright green dress and black cardigan, spoke about international development work she’s done through her organization, Global Health Corps. Both women stressed the importance of continued federal investment in foreign aid.

Smart Power

Foreign Aid Set to Take a Hit in the U.S. Budget Crisis (Steven Lee Myers, New York Times)

America’s budget crisis at home is forcing the first significant cuts in overseas aid in nearly two decades, a retrenchment that officials and advocates say reflects the country’s diminishing ability to influence the world.  As lawmakers scramble to trim the swelling national debt, both the Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate have proposed slashing financing for the State Department and its related aid agencies at a time of desperate humanitarian crises and uncertain political developments.

Conditional Aid for Pakistan: Change Not Guaranteed (Jackie Northam, NPR)

Pakistan is a leading recipient of U.S. economic aid, receiving billions of dollars every year in both civilian and military support. However, the recent rocky patch between the two countries is pushing many members of Congress to reevaluate the assistance package. The U.S. has been providing foreign assistance to Pakistan, to varying degrees, since the country was born in 1947. Aid started to climb dramatically after the Sept. 11 attacks, when Pakistan was deemed an ally in the battle against terrorism. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, the U.S. has pumped roughly $20 billion into Pakistan since 2001

Food and Consequences (Jonathan Broder, CQ)
It’s not easy to find good news these days from the Horn of Africa. The worst drought in 60 years has spawned full-blown famine across the parched savannah of southern Somalia, driving ragged clusters of people toward neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia. The lucky ones survive robbery, rape and murderous attacks by local armed gangs to reach overcrowded refugee camps just over the border. The less fortunate — the weak, elderly and those prevented from leaving Somalia by soldiers of the Islamic al-Shabaab militia — simply starve to death. But far better news emerges from Ethiopia, where officials appear to have learned lessons from a 2002 drought that affected as many as 13 million people.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Palestinians say freeze in US aid taking effect (Mohammed Daraghmeh, Fox News)

Palestinian officials said Monday that the U.S. has suspended West Bank development projects worth tens of millions of dollars after Congress froze funding to dissuade the Palestinians from seeking U.N. recognition of an independent state.  It’s the first concrete sign of repercussions for the Palestinians’ decision to defy Washington on the issue.

White House Sends Trade Pacts to Capitol Hill (Kelsey Snell, National Journal)

After months of negotiations and political fights, President Obama on Monday submitted to Congress ratifying language for the long-stalled trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, paving the way for final ratification before the end of the month. Obama called on lawmakers to approve the trade pacts “without delay.”

China picks up U.S. slack in trade (Michelle Quinn, Politico)

While Congress and the White House focused on foreign wars and a stagnant economy, shunting free-trade pacts to the sidelines, Latin America made a new best friend: China. Hungry for natural resources, China has overtaken the U.S. as the chief trading partner in Brazil, Chile and Argentina. It’s poured money into new ports and roads and used free-trade pacts to make Chinese brands like Lenovo computers and Chery automobiles widely available to Latin American consumers. China’s next step? A move into the region’s service sectors — for example, banking.