The Royce-Engel amendment to reform US food aid failed 203-220 in the House this week, as did the farm bill to which it was attached. The food aid amendment would have relaxed requirements that the United States buy American commodities and ship them on US ships. It's painful to see a smart foreign aid reform that would save lives and taxpayer money suffer a narrow defeat.
Could a more proactive strategy from the Obama administration, who proposed food aid reform in the FY2014 budget, have made the difference? Maybe. But the shred of good news here is that the first real vote on foreign aid in ages was closer than expected (it got more votes than the entire farm bill!) and had almost identical levels of support from Democrats (98) and Republicans (105) (more from Oxfam’s Gawain Kripke here). Here's hoping some of that bipartisan appetite for aid reform can help resolve the $10 billion difference in FY2014 foreign aid spending bills between the House ($34 billion) and Senate ($44.1 billion).