Hooray! The White House has nominated Lorne Craner and Morton Halperin to fill the two vacant non-governmental positions on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) board of directors. I’m thrilled to hear this announcement—naming these board members was one of three foreign aid tasks I argued the White House could accomplish before January 20th—and hope the Senate will aim for a speedy confirmation process, perhaps even in time for the December 19th board meeting where the MCC will select countries eligible for FY2013 funding.
A bit of background on the nominees: Lorne Craner is the president of the International Republican Institute and has already served one three-year term on the MCC board. Morton Halperin, senior advisor for the Open Society Foundations, would be a new face on the board but certainly not new to the MCC. Halperin has been following the MCC for many years, urging the agency to make democracy an explicit “hard hurdle” in their selection process (a rule the MCC recently embraced).
The unique MCC board structure—five governmental and four non-governmental members—brings both insider and independent expertise to MCC decisions on country selection, economic growth and poverty reduction analyses, risk assessment, and more. Its non-governmental board members are some of the best messengers on Capitol Hill, not to mention with NGOs and the private sector—all important constituencies for the MCC. If Craner and Halperin are confirmed, it will be the first time since September 2009 that the MCC would have all four non-governmental board members in place.
The upcoming December 19th board meeting, however, is expected to be the last before some big shake-ups to the governmental side of the MCC board. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk have all indicated that they will be moving on from their current government posts and therefore from the MCC board. While it seems unlikely the Senate will confirm Craner and Halperin before the board meeting next week, I hope the Senate will confirm them by the end of the year and before the next round of musical chairs.