Today, Congressman Howard L. Berman, Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released a discussion draft of the Global Partnerships Act of 2011 -- his legislative proposal for foreign assistance reform -- at an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institute. The Global Partnerships Act of 2011 would replace the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, which serves as the foundation for U.S. international aid programs, as well as the Arms Export Control Act, which contains additional authorities for arms sales and military assistance. This proposal modernizes the full spectrum of foreign assistance programs, from development to democracy to self-defense.
"After 50 years, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 is in desperate need of reform," said Congressman Berman. "It could be easy for some to look at Foreign Assistance, particularly in these tough economic times, and advocate for indiscriminate cuts instead of responsible reform. But cutting blindly, without fixing the underlying problems, will only make things worse."
"Aid is not a gift," added Congressman Berman. "The United States provides foreign assistance because it serves our interests and failure is not an option. There is no escaping our obligations, not only because we are morally bound to meet them, but because our economic and political interests demand that we address widespread poverty and chaos in the world. Our health, our security, and our prosperity are advanced by a world in which basic human needs are met, fundamental freedoms are respected, conflicts are resolved peacefully and the world's resources are used wisely. America simply cannot afford a course of isolation and retreat."
Currently, our foreign aid is governed by a legislative framework that turned 50 years old on September 4, 2011. It's an architecture developed during the Cold War to address the problems of the 20th century. Congressman Berman's proposal, which was three years in the making, is a wholesale reform of this current system that would allow the United States to address the challenges of the 21st Century while navigating this tight budget environment. The result is a much improved, modernized system for delivering assistance that is more efficient, more effective, more accountable, and better serves America's interests abroad.
The Global Partnerships Act of 2011 has seven purposes, each corresponding to a title of the proposed legislation:
* Reducing Global Poverty and Alleviating Human Suffering
* Advancing Peace and Mitigating Conflict
* Supporting Human Rights and Democracy
* Building and Reinforcing Strategic Partnerships
* Countering Transnational Threats
* Sustaining the Global Environment
* Expanding Prosperity Through Trade and Investment
Congressman Berman released this proposal as a discussion draft in order to further stimulate honest, open and constructive dialogue, solicit input, and build bipartisan consensus. Accordingly, a new webpage on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Minority website is dedicated to The Global Partnerships Act of 2011. On this page visitors can learn more about the proposal, download helpful information and details, and provide feedback.