The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations committee introduced on May 6 new legislation worth USD3.5B to guide and support U.S. engagement in Haiti’s reconstruction.
The Haiti Empowerment, Assistance and Rebuilding Act of 2010 seeks a comprehensive rebuilding and development strategy, recommends a policy framework to guide U.S. assistance efforts and calls for the appointment of a coordinator of U.S. policy towards Haiti.
The legislation, which is sponsored by committee chair John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), includes the following:
- Authorization of USD3.5 billion for Haiti reconstruction projects over five year.
- Instructions to USAID to design a “comprehensive rebuilding and development strategy” in consultation with civil-society groups, private-sector actors, implementing partners and the Haiti government.
- A strategic policy framework to reaffirm the U.S.’s long-term commitment to Haiti and ensure that U.S. assistance will address the most critical needs, including good governance, economic growth and sustainability, environmental sustainability and human development.
- Creation of the post of senior Haiti policy coordinator within the U.S. government.
The Kerry-Corker bill also mandates that all reconstruction and rebuilding efforts led by the U.S. consider and build upon existing assessments of the situation in Haiti.
The committment to Haiti represented by the bill is “a big deal”, a committee staff told Politico’s Paula Rozen. However, a Washington humanitarian official said that while he appreciates the bill, he is concerned it might diminish the role of USAID in Haiti’s reconstruction in favor of the Department of State, Rozen writes. The official asked not to be named.
“I think the relief and development community is concerned about the continuing diminution of USAID’s role,” Rozen quotes the official. “If you read carefully, it calls for the creation of the coordinator at the State Department. The legislation does not require the position be Senate confirmed. … By creating another operational coordinator focused on Haiti at State, it undermines USAID taking the lead on this.”