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Foreign Assistance in the Americas: Testimony for the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere

September 16, 2008

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From Nancy Birdsall's testimony:

Chairman Engel, Congressman Burton, and distinguished members of the committee, I am delighted to have the opportunity to share with you my views on the state of U.S. foreign assistance efforts in general and in the Americas more specifically.

As many of you know, the Center for Global Development is an independent, non-partisan think tank dedicated to improving the policies of the rich countries as they relate to the world’s poor countries and poorest people. Like this committee, we recognize the enormous opportunity that the 2008 U.S. presidential and congressional elections present to revisit the strategic rationale and the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance programs in Latin America and other developing regions. We look forward to working with the new administration, both parties in Congress, and our colleagues in the think tank and development advocacy communities to help ensure our foreign assistance programs not only reflect American values but effectively address the 21st-century imperative of promoting global prosperity and security globally in America’s own interests.

I would like to raise and comment on three issues of concern to this committee.

  • First: I fervently hope Congress will work with the next president and his administration in implementing a major overhaul of the organization of foreign assistance programs.
  • Second: I believe the Congress should urge the Treasury to press for faster and deeper changes at the Inter-American Development Bank, an institution of special interest to this committee, and at the World Bank.
  • Third: I want to support, but with some reservations, the proposed legislation for establishing an Economic and Social Investment Fund for the Americas.

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