Last week U.S. President Barack Obama resubmitted his nomination for the U.S. government’s representative at the World Bank — a position that has been left unfilled by a candidate that is not an “alternate” for over a year and a half.
With no certainty as to when the nomination is to be approved or rejected, champions of U.S. economic interests abroad are left to wonder when their voice will be fully considered in multilateral bank affairs.
“Operating without a full U.S. leadership team in place in these institutions limits our reach and influence at a time when we are working on a range of pressing challenges,” U.S. Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs Nathan Sheets said at the National Press Club in early December.
“Seeing the administration’s talented nominees confirmed is a critical step in our efforts to advance U.S. interests in these institutions,” Sheets said, lamenting the fact that “six nominees to positions as executive directors or alternate executive directors at the [International Monetary Fund] and the multilateral development banks” remained “unconfirmed by the Senate.”
Friday marked the second time Obama nominated Washington, D.C., native Matthew T. McGuire as U.S. representative at the World Bank — a position more formally known as United States executive director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The first time was in January 2014 while the 113th Congress was at the helm.
Since McGuire was never confirmed, nor rejected, by the 113th Congress’ Senate Committee on Foreign Relations before the end of its session, McGuire’s nomination was sent back to the president at the end of last year — leaving it up to Obama to resubmit his nomination to the 114th Congress and begin the process all over again.
A representative from the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations told Devex that a timeline for approval or rejection of the McGuire nomination still isn’t clear, but that Sen. Bob Corker “controls the flow” as chairman of the committee.
IBRD’s last executive director, Ian Solomon, left the role in 2013 when his term expired and since then, Sara Margalit Aviel has filled in as U.S. “alternate” executive director.
McGuire, in his current role as assistant to the secretary and director of the Office of Business Liaison at the Department of Commerce, promotes business policies that help U.S. entrepreneurs and business owners thrive and advocates for American businesses around the globe to boost global trade.
“In an era where CEOs and investors can deploy each next dollar, or euro, or real almost anywhere in the world at almost a moment’s notice, it is increasingly important that countries like ours pay close attention to their financial positions, and that they strive to maintain and strengthen the integrity of their capital markets,” McGuire said in May 2014 while addressing the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations following his nomination.
Paul Cadario, senior fellow at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs and a former senior manager at the World Bank pointed out that a Republican Congress will likely value McGuire’s business background. But, Cadario added, “I hope that he remembers that the bank’s role is not to promote American business.”
McGuire’s profile might not fit that of the typical development professional, but his background does demonstrate some parallels with some of today’s most influential development leaders.
The son of two former Peace Corps volunteers, McGuire has a bachelor’s degree from Brown University, a doctorate in anthropology from Harvard University — as does World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and humanitarian physician Paul Farmer — and a certificate of religious studies from the University of London. He has also worked in nonprofits, focusing on job training and workforce development as well as the redevelopment of public housing projects in Chicago.
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