What are the chances of seeing a comprehensive U.S. foreign assistance bill pass through Congress in 2014?
“Close to nothing,” according to House Foreign Affairs Committee staffer Nilmini Rubin.
“Funds for everything are tight. Funds for development are even more tight, because development benefits people who don’t vote,” Rubin, a Devex DC 40 awardee, told an audience of international development company leaders at the 2013 CIDC Conference on Wednesday.
She added: “Things are moving in different ways on foreign assistance. It’s just unlikely you’re going to see a foreign assistance bill move through Congress. We’re not even getting ‘must-pass’ bills through. You’re not seeing budget bills getting through … It’s going to be a challenge to even see the NDAA — the defense authorization bill — get through.”
“The chance that you get a foreign assistance bill through, when the last real comprehensive foreign assistance bill that’s gone through was 1985, the chance you’re going to get it through in 2014 is just close to nothing,” said the House Foreign Affairs Committee staffer.
The foreign affairs committee — where Rubin serves as senior advisor for global economic competitiveness — handles authorization and oversight of aid-related programs. She noted that despite the gridlock on Capitol Hill, aid-related legislation is moving through Congress. PEPFAR, the flagship U.S. HIV/AIDS program, was reauthorized last month, and some aid experts remain optimistic food aid reform remains in play within the ongoing Farm Bill negotiations.
Rubin’s comments definitively slammed what was already a very small window of hope for comprehensive U.S. foreign assistance legislation next year.
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