USAID Administrator Nominee Dr. Rajiv Shah testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his heavily attended confirmation hearing. Dr. Shah, who was nominated on November 10, is currently serving as Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics at the Department of Agriculture and previously worked for the Gates Foundation, where he focused on global development and health issues. During his testimony, Dr. Shah indicated that his top priorities would include restoring USAID’s effectiveness, playing a leadership role on behalf of the agency in the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) and the National Security Council’s Presidential Study Directive (PSD) on Global Development Policy, and working very closely with other programs and agencies such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC).
Several Senators noted that 11 Members of the Committee attended the hearing, demonstrating the Senate’s considerable interest in development and its place in U.S. foreign policy and national security. One consistent message from Senators was the importance of not waiting for the results of the QDDR before starting to reform USAID. Senators in attendance included Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Bob Corker (R-TN), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Edward Kaufman (D-DE), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Jim Webb (D-VA). The Committee is expected to vote on Dr. Shah’s confirmation as early as Tuesday, Dec. 8, with the hopes of confirmation by the full Senate shortly thereafter.