Top Story of the Week: What the Midterm Election Turnout Could Mean for U.S. Foreign Aid Reform

The U.S. congressional elections dealt a huge blow to U.S. President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party, which lost its control of the House of Representative to the Republicans and barely managed to hang on to the majority in the Senate. How this turnout will affect U.S. foreign assistance remains unclear as various reform proposals from politicians, think tanks and other opinion leaders surface in Washington, D.C.

Variations in these proposals, some of which are expected to end up as part of the official Republican Party foreign policy agenda, suggest that the GOP has yet to agree on a clear path. Among the ideas being floated are the elimination of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Trade and Development Agency and the Overseas Private Investment Corp. Eliminating USAID will save the U.S. some USD1.39 billion annually, according to a memo released by the Republican Study Committee, a group of more than 115 House Republicans who are advocating a conservative economic and social agenda in Congress.

Meanwhile, proponents of a robust U.S. foreign aid budget appear to be in wait-and-see mode to gauge which conservative reform ideas will stick. It is widely expected that the Democratic-led Senate and the White House, which has veto powers, will prevent most of the drastic reforms the Republican-controlled lower house might pursue.

Several opinion leaders are urging the Obama administration to reach out to newly elected Republicans who appear to be friendly toward its foreign policy. These “friends” include Reps. Dave Camp of Michigan and Roy Blunt of Missouri, and Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Mark Kirk of Illinois.

The Obama administration may also find some allies in the roster of elected Tea Party-backed Republican representatives and senators, some experts suggest. The Tea Party is a populist, conservative and libertarian political grassroots movement. At least one opinion leader has noted that the Democratic Party and Tea Party supporters may be able to find common ground in issues including the military pullout in Afghanistan, a hard stance on Iran and a move toward a results-based foreign aid strategy.

Read more about news about the U.S. midterm election and its potential impact on U.S. foreign aid reform here.

About the author

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    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.