Raising the Bar on Transparency

October 13, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Yesterday, USGLC released a statement in support of the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012, introduced by Congressmen Ted Poe (R-TX) and Howard Berman (D-CA), commending the bipartisan effort “for raising the bar to ensure our nation has accountable, transparent foreign assistance programs across all departments and agencies.” Also yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid out her vision for American global leadership in a speech to the Center for American Progress, saying “If we retreat from the world, or if we refuse to invest in America’s global leadership, our values and interests will be undermined across the board. Our economic recovery will slow and our security will suffer. This is something that America—and I would argue the world – simply cannot afford.”   This afternoon the House Foreign Affairs Committee will mark up the United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act of 2011, introduced by Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), which places conditions on U.S. contributions to the UN unless the body moves from a system of assessed dues to voluntary donations within two years.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Clinton threatens veto of Ros-Lehtinen’s U.N. bill (Josh Rogin, The Cable)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today that the State Department is firmly opposed to the U.N. reform bill being marked up on Thursday by House Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and promised to recommend to President Barack Obama that he veto the legislation.  “This bill mandates actions that would severely limit the United States’ participation in the United Nations, damaging longstanding treaty commitments under the United Nations Charter and gravely harming U.S. national interests, those of our allies, and the security of Americans at home and abroad,” Clinton wrote in a letter today sent to Ros-Lehtinen and her Democratic counterpart Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA).

Smart Power

Tuberculosis Cases Declining for the First Time in Decades, but U.S. Aid Cuts Threaten Progress (Maggie Astor, International Business Times)

Tuberculosis (TB) cases are decreasing for the first time in more than 20 years, the World Health Organization announced on Tuesday. But that progress may be jeopardized if Congress cuts foreign aid for prevention and treatment programs.  There were 8.8 million new cases of TB in 2010, down from 9 million in 2005. This means the downward trend has been going on for some time, but it was only just confirmed in WHO’s 2011 Global Tuberculosis Control Report.

Food Aid Reaches Famine-Stricken Somalia (Voice of America)

The United Nations says food aid has been delivered to more than half of Somalia’s people in need, but food insecurity will remain a major problem into next year.  The U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affair (OCHA) said Wednesday that more than 2.2 million Somalis have received food assistance, mostly in the famine-stricken south. However, the office said nearly two million others still urgently need aid.

Famine-Stricken Somalia Suffers From Aid Drought (Michele Kelemen, NPR)
Humanitarian groups are increasingly worried about the looming budget cuts in U.S. foreign assistance. They argue that lives are at stake in places like the Horn of Africa, which is suffering its worst drought in decades. Raising public and private money for that crisis been a challenge in the current economic environment.

Foreign Aid Advocates Fight Cuts to Programs That ‘Save Lives’ (Talea Miller, PBS Newshour)

As annual budget decisions loom on Capitol Hill, international development advocates are pushing back against more proposed cuts to foreign aid.  Aid programs took a hit earlier this year– $8 billion was slashed from the State Department and international program budgets in the spring– and more than 200 non-governmental organizations are joining forces to call for an end to new cuts. Supporters like the ONE campaign, World Vision, PATH and Oxfam America argue that foreign aid is a smart investment that saves lives, increases global security and has a widespread impact while accounting for just 1 percent of U.S. spending.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Senate Leaders Turn Toward Multiple Spending Bills to Avoid Omnibus (Kerry Young, CQ)

If Democrats stick with legislation that enjoys relatively broad support, candidates for the next package would include the Defense (HR 2219), Energy-Water (HR 2354), Homeland Security, Legislative Branch (HR 2551) and State-Foreign Operations (S 1601) measures.

New Poll Shows Americans Support U.S. Involvement in United Nations (National Journal)
An overwhelming majority of voters support U.S. involvement in the United Nations, according to a bipartisan poll released on Thursday. The poll results come as the House Foreign Affairs Committee prepares to mark up comprehensive anti-U.N. legislation that could cut off 50 percent of America’s contribution to the organization’s budget, including funding to affiliates like the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the U.N. Development Programme.