In the coming weeks, the two chambers of Congress will head into conference committee to decide how to allocate some $36 billion in the international affairs budget across a multitude of foreign aid programs. In a federal budget dominated by defense and domestic spending, every penny of the international affairs budget--particularly development assistance--will be hard fought. Particularly vulnerable each year is the three-year old Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)--one of few U.S. foreign aid programs specifically targeted to development--since to date it has disbursed very little of its appropriated funds. The MCA Monitor's Sheila Herrling and Sarah Rose argue that disbursement rates are just one measure of program progress. Based on the number of countries on the verge of finalizing compact programs, they say, the MCA can indeed spend the full $3 billion requested for it for FY08, and should be given a chance to do so, particularly since a decision to cut funding could jeopardize the core credibility of the program.
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