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CRS Report – Foreign Operations Appropriations: General Provisions

From the report summary: “This report identifies the legislative origins of General Provisions that pertain to foreign aid in the current Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2009 (division J of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009; P.L. 111-8; 123 Stat. 524 at 831). . . . Over time, as enactment of foreign aid reauthorizations waned, the General Provisions of foreign appropriations measures increasingly became the place for Congress to assert its views on the role and use of U.S. foreign aid policy, put limits or conditions on assistance, or even authorize new programs.”

Budget – House Passes Budget Conference Agreement

H.Con.Res. 85 (House Budget Resolution) was introduced by Representative John Spratt (D-SC, 5th) and reported on by the House Committee on the Budget on March 27, 2009. The full House held a vote and approved the budget resolution authorizing $48.5 billion for the International Affairs budget on April 2, 2009 (the International Affairs budget contains most of the government’s funding for global health activities). The Budget Conference to resolve differences between the House and Senate budget resolutions reached an agreement and filed its report on April 27, 2009 with the International Affairs budget at $51.0 billion. The House voted (233-193) to approve the Budget Conference Agreement on April 29, 2009.

Budget – Senate Passes Budget Conference Agreement

S.Con.Res. 13 (Senate Budget Resolution) was introduced by Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) and reported on by the Senate Committee on the Budget on March 27, 2009 with $49.8 billion for the International Affairs budget (the International Affairs budget contains most of the government’s funding for global health activities). When the bill was heard by the full Senate, Senators Kerry and Lugar proposed an amendment that increased the International Affairs budget by $4 billion returning it to the President’s initial request of $53.8 billion. The Kerry-Lugar amendment was passed by the Senate on April 1, 2009. The entire budget resolution was passed by the Senate on April 2, 2009. The Budget Conference to resolve differences between the House and Senate budget resolutions reached an agreement and filed its report on April 27, 2009 with the International Affairs budget at $51.0 billion. Senate voted (53-43) to approve the Budget Conference Agreement on April 29, 2009.

GAO Testimony on USAID Acquisition and Assistance

In a hearing before the Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization, and Procurement (House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform), GAO staff provided testimony on the challenges facing the development of USAID’s strategic workforce plan for its Acquisition and Assistance (A&A) efforts. GAO stated that USAID “has shifted from conducting its own activities to managing acquisition and assistance (A&A) instruments – contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements – it awards to implementing organization” and that USAID staff are now “responsible for monitoring the activities of A&A recipients to provide reasonable assurance that the funds provided are used in accordance with applicable regulations and policies and sound business practices.” GAO found that “USAID lacks the capacity to develop and implement a strategic workforce plan because it is missing two elements: (1) sufficiently reliable and up-to-date data on its overseas A&A staff levels and (2) comprehensive information on the competencies of its overseas A&A staff.”

H.R. 2139 – Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009

The bill directs “the President to develop and implement a comprehensive national strategy to further the United States foreign policy objective of promoting global development, and for other purposes.” In developing the strategy, the bill directs the president to better define the roles of USG departments and agencies, improve coordination between these departments and agencies, and increase the monitoring and evaluation of U.S. development programs.

H.R. 2103 – International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2009

Among other things, the bill states that “child marriage undermines United States investments in foreign assistance . . . to reduce maternal and child mortality, reduce maternal illness, halt the transmission of HIV/AIDS [and] prevent gender-based violence.” The bill requires the President to establish a multi-year strategy to prevent child marriage and authorizes the President to implement a variety of foreign assistance programs directed at the needs of girls including “access to water and suitable hygiene facilities . . . [and] access to health care services and proper nutrition for adolescent girls.” The bill authorizes “such sums as necessary.”

Representative Berman states U.S. needs comprehensive foreign assistance strategy

Responding to a Government Accountability Report (GAO) on Foreign Aid Reform, Congressman Berman stated that “the findings of a GAO report issued today prove the need for a comprehensive strategy for U.S. foreign assistance efforts”. The Congressman also stated he “would soon introduce legislation to ensure that the United States has a comprehensive strategy to reduce global poverty and promote broad-based economic growth in developing countries.”