Berman Seeks Bipartisan Support for Pet Foreign Aid Reforms

He may be stepping down next year as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) says he remains committed to pushing key reforms aimed at making the U.S. aid delivery system more efficient, effective and accountable.

In an opinion piece in the Washington Times, Berman identifies a number of “common-sense reforms” that he says both parties, both congressional chambers and both the executive and legislative branches of government could agree on.

Berman’s roster includes shifting to evidence-based aid budget allocations, rolling back budgetary earmarks, reducing paperwork and red tape, eliminating duplication and waste, increasing transparency in aid flow and increasing funding for multilateral organizations. The congressman also highlights the need to prioritize recipient countries “that make genuine efforts to help themselves.”

These recommendations form part of the U.S. foreign aid reform proposal that Berman introduced earlier this year. Many of them are also reflected in the draft summary of the State Department-led Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review that was leaked last month.

>> In Draft QDDR: More Hires, Smaller Contracts

There has been early indication that Berman’s bill will not see light of the day, particularly after the Republican Party takes congrol of the House of Representative in January.

Berman’s successor, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) could possibly be the greatest hurdle to the bill’s passage. Josh Rogin of Foreign Policy’s “The Cable” blog has tipped that Ros-Lehtinen is not likely to move Berman’s bill nor easily defer to the Obama administration’s foreign policy priorities.

Just recently, Ros-Lehtinen has threatened to impose a “a number of cuts to the State Department and Foreign Aid budgets,” as Devex reported.

>> Incoming US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chief Warns of State, Aid Budget Cuts

Berman is said to be working on a slimmed-down version of his foreign aid reform bill, which in its current form would have sweepingly overhauled the Foreign Assistance Act.

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.