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Engel Remarks on Foreign Aid Transparency

ENGEL FLOOR REMARKS ON FOREIGN AID TRANSPARENCY

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WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks in the United States House of Representatives in support of the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2016 (H.R.3766):

“Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this measure and I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

“Thank you Mr. Speaker.  I want to again thank our chairman, Ed Royce, for his leadership on the Foreign Affairs Committee.  I want to thank my colleagues who have worked so hard on this bill: Mr. Poe of Texas, Mr. Connolly of Virginia. 

“We marked up this bill in the Foreign Affairs Committee and the House approved it last winter.  The Senate sent it back to us with a few changes, and now I’m pleased that we’re taking a final vote on this measure before we send it to the President’s desk.

“Mr. Speaker, I view foreign assistance as one of our most important foreign-policy tools.  Whether we’re helping a community build a school and train teachers, or helping a country improve its power grid, or making it easier for farmers to irrigate their fields and families to get clean water, foreign assistance shows the rest of the world that the United States is eager to be a friend and eager to be a partner.  And partnership is good for us as well.

“Of course, foreign assistance isn’t about handouts.  It’s about helping build capacity and capabilities.  We want to see countries become vibrant and productive.  We want to see societies become strong and prosperous. 

“Stronger partners around the world mean better lives for the people in those countries.  And greater stability and security for their neighbors and regions.  And of course a greater partnership with the United States of America.  That’s important to us, as well as to the nations we’re helping.

“At its best, foreign assistance is like planting a seed: nurturing it, and seeing it grow into something strong and self-sufficient.  If we’re doing it right, it will give us a tremendous bang for our buck.

“Foreign policy, foreign assistance is less than one percent of the total American budget.  Although people think it’s 15percent or even more, it’s less than one percent.  But we don’t have a whole lot to work with.  Because our foreign assistance represents that one percent, just the smallest sliver of the federal budget.  So we need to know that these investments are being put to the best use.  We need to take a hard look at the results in order to cut away dead wood and focus on the efforts that are giving us the best outcomes.

“The Administration has already taken tremendous steps to provide accountability and transparency in our foreign-assistance programs.  This bill would write many of those steps into law and build on them, requiring measurable goals for foreign aid and requiring strong plans for monitoring and evaluation. 

“We need to see just what a difference our foreign assistance is making and get a better understanding of the way foreign assistance programs tie in to our own national-security interests.  And they do.  We have national-security concerns, and foreign aid is one way of addressing those concerns.

“So, I’m glad to support this measure.  I’m grateful for the hard work of Mr. Poe, Mr. Connolly, Chairman Royce.  And I reserve the balance of my time.”