Congressman Gerry Connolly has introduced the Global Partnerships Act, the first major rewrite of foreign assistance legislation in more than 50 years.
The landmark foreign aid reform bill is the culmination of more than four years of collaboration between former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman and Connolly. Connolly and Berman introduced similar legislation at the end of the 112th Congress.
“It is time for a complete overhaul of the way we administer foreign aid. The 21st century requires a foreign aid program that recognizes today’s priorities and streamlines the process in the post-Cold War era,” Connolly said. “It is also a critical component of our national-security strategy, encompassing three key tenets: defense, diplomacy and development,” Connolly said.
“The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 has become outdated, with a myriad of competing goals, objectives and priorities,” Connolly said. “These legislative barnacles, built up over a half century, inhibit our ability to effectively and efficiently meet our strategic mission of delivering foreign aid around the world. This bill will ensure that American assistance is maximized for its full impact.”
The Center for Global Development identified more than 33 major objectives, 75 priorities and 247 directives relating to foreign aid in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Connolly’s legislation simplifies the administration of foreign aid by restoring the U.S. Agency for International Development’s policy and budget functions and identifying eight concise goals for development assistance. These eight goals are:
• Accelerating economic growth
• Promoting food security
• Advancing health
• Expanding education
• Protecting and restoring the natural environment
• Improving access to safe water, sanitation and shelter
• Fostering equal opportunity
• Strengthening democratic governance
In addition, the Global Partnership Act provides greater transparency, accountability, and oversight of the aid system by requiring an online database about all forms of U.S. foreign assistance, including an unclassified database on security assistance.
“At a time when competing government priorities face the chopping block, advocates of effective foreign aid have a responsibility to make the case that aid directly serves our country’s long-term national-security and economic interests, and in a cost-effective way,” Connolly said.
At last week’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on U.S. foreign aid, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah pledged to work with Connolly on this effort to overhaul and modernize U.S. foreign assistance.
Connolly was involved in drafting the Foreign Assistance reauthorization in 1986, when he served on the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Connolly has more than 30 years of experience in foreign aid and poverty issues in the public and private sector, and as a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.