What a Republican-led House Could Mean for Obama’s Foreign Aid Policy

Republican Reps. John Boehner and Eric Cantor. Photo by: The House Republican Conference / CC BY-NC The House Republican ConferenceCC BY-NC

With polls indicating that Republicans will take back the U.S. House of Representatives after the Nov. 2 midterm elections, the Obama administration’s foreign aid policy is seen to face a serious challenge in Congress.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) expects to rise to House majority leader should John A. Boehner of Ohio become speaker, giving him the power to set the House floor agenda.

“That could spell trouble for the administration’s foreign operations budget, which funds the State Department and sets levels for U.S. non-military assistance around the world,” Josh Rogin, who runs “The Cable” blog, says. “Republicans are threatening to withhold aid to countries they think aren’t wholly supportive of the United States, and Cantor told the Jewish Telegraph Agency recently that the president’s proposed budget might have to be rejected outright if Republicans take power - after separating out U.S. aid for Israel.”

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) will likely take over the House Foreign Affairs Committee from Howard Berman (D-Calif.). According to Rogin, this development “could spell doom” for Berman’s foreign aid reform bill and drastically change the Obama administration’s global affairs agenda.

“[Ros-Lehtinen] argues often for more vetting of foreign aid in the hope of finding cuts, and she has also introduced legislation to cut U.S. funding for the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority,” Rogin writes.

Kay Granger (R-Texas), meanwhile, is the apparent next leader of the House Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, according to Rogin. That means she would have a big role in writing the State Department’s budget bill.

“Although she supported the legislation put forth this year by Chairman Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), she criticized the increases for the foreign-ops budget. She’s a strong supporter of a balanced budget amendment, which doesn’t bode well for foreign-aid funding,” Rogin says.

About the author

  • Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.