March 6, 2010

USAID Administrator Shah Testifies before the House

USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah testified before two House Committees on March 3rd and 4th, in support of elevating development, alongside diplomacy and defense, as part of U.S. national security. During the committee hearings, bipartisan support was also expressed for Dr. Shah’s leadership in coordinating U.S. government-wide efforts to provide relief and recovery assistance to the people of Haiti following the disastrous earthquake. In making the case to support the President’s FY11 International Affairs Budget request, Dr. Shah focused in on the critical and important contributions his agency has in helping to secure the “frontline” states of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, meeting urgent global needs, and ensuring the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance by rebuilding USAID’s civilian capacity.

In his opening statement, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Berman (D-CA) noted “the entire International Affairs budget accounts for just over 1 percent of federal spending.  And only about a third of that one percent is allocated to development and humanitarian programs….With this in mind the increases for fiscal year 2011 are quite modest and, I think, extremely well-justified.” Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) once again reiterated her concerns about funding levels, noting that “although our aid programs are not a major part of our budget, we need to find places to slow down or freeze funding.” Similar to their statements during Secretary Clinton’s testimony last week, both Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX) of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations spoke about the difficult fiscal and economic environment facing Congress while reiterating their support for USAID.

Excerpts from USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah on the FY11 International Affairs Budget