A new bipartisan effort to push aid effectiveness got off to a good start Thursday (May 12) at the launch of the U.S. congressional Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance in Washington.

Reps. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.), founders and co-chairmen of the caucus, were joined by U.S. Agency of International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah and a host of NGO officials and congressional staffers who packed a hearing room in the Rayburn office building for speeches and a panel discussion.

The mood was positive, although the caucus’s impact is all but clear, since neither of the caucus co-chairs sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over U.S. aid reform issues.

Former Ambassador Mark Green, who serves as the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s senior director overseeing public policy and field operations, said: “Ander Crenshaw and Adam Smith obviously understand the importance of maintaining strong development and diplomacy tools. I hope this caucus will provide a vehicle for building on the bipartisan innovations we’ve seen in recent years - from PEPFAR and the MCC to the QDDR and efforts to bolster monitoring and evaluation.”

Greg Adams, Oxfam America’s director of aid effectiveness, said: “The Caucus is another sign that members of Congress from both parties are committed to fighting global poverty and want the U.S. to do this well. Reps. Crenshaw and Smith have been stressing that fighting global poverty is core to U.S. security, prosperity and values. The caucus provides a venue for members across Congress to educate themselves and the public about both the value of fighting poverty, as well as how we build better tools to do this critical work.”

He continued: “Congress can move forward by embracing the reforms introduced in recent years by both President Bush and Obama, and making sure that we are not turning our back on this effort at a time of global economic challenges.”

The aid effectiveness caucus is a brainchild of its two co-chairs, who have worked on issues relating to international development for several years through their assignments on various House panels. Development experts from the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, USGLC and other groups have served as a resource for the co-chairs as they developed the initiative.

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    Rolf Rosenkranz

    Rolf Rosenkranz oversees a talented team of in-house journalists, correspondents and guest contributors located around the globe. Since joining Devex in early 2008, Rolf has been instrumental in growing its fledgling news operation into the leading online source for global development news and analysis. Previously, Rolf was managing editor at Inside Health Policy, a subscription-based news service in Washington. He has reported from Africa for the Johannesburg-based Star and its publisher, Independent News & Media, as well as the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, a German daily.