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Outgoing Rep. Berman Introduces Bill To Reform Foreign Aid With Emphasis On Partnerships

“California Rep. Howard Berman, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, unveiled a 923-page bill on Wednesday that would replace the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 with a framework for providing developmental and economic U.S. aid,” the Associated Press/Huffington Post reports, noting, “Berman’s Global Partnerships Act of 2012 would change the aid system to focus on mutually agreed goals instead of the emphasis on donor-recipient ties, increase accountability and oversight, and eliminate duplication” (Cassata, 12/12). “Aside from this shift from donor-recipient relations to partnerships, the bill proposes a stronger focus on results, the revitalization of [USAID], elevation of human rights in U.S. foreign policy and aid programs, improvement of U.S. capacity to prevent and address conflicts, and expansion of the scope of debt-for-nature programs,” according to Devex’s “Pennsylvania Ave.” blog.

“Berman, who is leaving Congress after losing in the November elections, did recognize that the bill is not likely to be approved before the current session of the House of Representatives adjourns,” and therefore would “have to be reintroduced in the 113th Congress,” the blog notes (Mungcal, 12/13). “The United States is the world’s largest donor nation,” Reuters writes, noting that even though foreign assistance equals about one percent of the federal budget, “it is a favorite target of politicians who want to cut the budget further.” Berman said, “Little by little, people are losing confidence in why we’re giving foreign assistance and I think a serious effort to make it stronger and better and to have documents and to have transparency … helps build support for it,” according to Reuters (Zengerle, 12/12).