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Senators Kerry and Lugar outline challenges facing MCC

In a letter to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) CEO Daniel Yohannes, Senators Kerry and Lugar expressed their support for MCC’s efforts to fight global poverty and outlined five critical challenges facing MCC:
1) Role & Purpose of MCC Assistance: Should MCC funding be given to middle income countries or should a “transition fund” be created to assist low income countries become compact eligible?

2) Foreign Assistance Reform: The MCC should remain an independent development agency, but should improve its coordination with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), State and other agencies undertaking development activities.

3) Threshold Program: The MCC should perform a “significant overhaul and substantial rethinking” of the threshold program.

4) Additional Authorities & Flexibility: The Senators expressed they were “amenable” to allowing the MCC to run “concurrent”, longer term (greater than 5 year), and regional compacts.

5) Funding and Project Implementation Models: The “MCC should consider and incorporate new and innovative models for the compact program and how it delivers assistance” including “a greater emphasis on civil society and the private sector to generate project ideas and undertake implementation.”

H.R. 4462 – To accelerate the income tax benefits for charitable cash contributions for the relief of victims of the earthquake in Haiti (Public Law No: 111-126)

The proposed bill allows “a cash contribution made [after January 11, 2010 and before March 1, 2010] for the relief of victims in areas affected by the earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010” to be considered – for tax purposes – as having occurred on December 31, 2009.

Timeline of the bill:

- Introduced and referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means on January 19, 2010.

- Passed by a voice vote in the House on January 20, 2010.

- Passed by unanimous consent in the Senate on January 21, 2010.

- Signed by the President (Public Law No: 111-126) on Janurary 22, 2010.

Congressional Budget Office – Cost Estimate of S. 987: International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2010

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that this bill, which authorizes the President to provide assistance to developing countries in order to reduce the incidence of child marriage, would cost $67 million between 2011-2015. Among other things, the bill authorizes programs aimed at addressing the health needs of girls in developing countries.

GAO Report – Trends in U.S. Spending for Global HIV/AIDS and Other Health Assistance in Fiscal Years 2001-2008

The report analyzes U.S. bilateral funding (in the form of disbursements) for global HIV/AIDS and other health-related programs in FY01-FY08. Additionally, the report provides information on the models used by the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to estimate HIV treatment costs.

H.R. 4636 – United Nations Voting Accountability Act of 2010

The proposed bill would prohibit the United States from providing any monetary or physical assistance to a foreign country that has opposed the position of the United States in the United Nations (determined as voting differently than the U.S. in more than 50% of the votes cast in the Security Council and General Assembly).

H.R. 4594 – International Violence Against Women Act of 2010

Among other things, the proposed bill states that “[v]iolence against women dramatically impedes progress in meeting global health goals, including efforts to stem maternal mortality and the spread of HIV/AIDS.” In order to prevent and address the impacts of violence against women, the bill creates and authorizes funding for an “Office for Global Women’s Issues” at the Department of State and the “Office for Women’s Global Development” at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The bill also requires the creation and implementation of a 5-year international strategy, outlines the types of interventions that U.S. assistance would support, including working with ministers of health and integrating efforts into existing USG global health interventions, and authorizes funding to implement the strategy and interventions.

S. 1524 – Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009

The bill proposes “to strengthen the capacity, transparency, and accountability of United States foreign assistance programs to effectively adapt and respond to new challenges of the 21st century, and for other purposes.”

The bill focuses on the following areas:

- Policy and strategic planning: Creates the “Bureau for Policy and Strategic Planning” within USAID;

- Research, analysis and evaluation of development programs: Creates the “Office for Learning, Evaluation, and Analysis in Development” within USAID and an independent “Council on Research and Evaluation of Foreign Assistance”;

- Personnel and human resources: Requires a “Comprehensive Workforce and Human Resources Strategy for the United States Agency for International Development” and establishes the “Workforce and Human Resources Task Force”; and

- Coordination of development programs in the field: Establishes the USAID in-country mission director as the primary coordinator of all US development programs in that country.

Timeline of the bill:

- Introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on July 28, 2009.

- Reported favorably (14-3) out of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on November 17, 2009.

- The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a cost estimate of the bill on January 20, 2010.

- A congressional report (No. 111-122) was submitted and the bill was placed on the Senate legislative calendar on February 2, 2010.