Chances of US foreign aid bill in 2014 'close to nothing'

Nilmini Rubin, U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee senior advisor for global economic competitiveness, says that the chances of getting a foreign assistance bill through in 2014 is close to nothing. Photo courtesy of: Nilmini Rubin

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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About the author

  • Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.