The brutality of the Assad regime and ISIS has driven millions of Syrian and Iraqi men, women, and children from their homes.  Starvation is being used as a weapon of war, with deadly impact.

It is in both the humanitarian and national security interests of the United States to help improve conditions for refugees on the ground in the Middle East – before they attempt dangerous journeys to Europe.

To do this, we must reform and improve food security and disaster relief programs that have been on cruise control, with little direction from Congress.  Using existing funds in a more efficient, effective, and transparent way will provide life-saving relief to more people in need in the Middle East and elsewhere.

And that’s what the Global Food Security Act (GFSA) is all about.  To help address the immediate crisis, the GFSA will establish priorities for and enhance the transparency of existing yet unauthorized food security and disaster assistance programs.  And with an eye toward the future, it will advance policies that better enable people to grow their own way out of poverty, so they will no longer have to depend upon U.S. foreign assistance.

Tomorrow, the GFSA will be up for consideration at the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s 10 a.m. markup

In the meantime, here’s a closer look at why this bill is so important:

Status quo The Global Food Security Act

In FY2016, $3.8 billion will be spent on international food assistance and disaster relief programs with limited oversight.

Does NOT increase spending, period.  Ensures existing funds are spent more effectively and transparently.

The authorization for International Disaster Assistance has not been updated in 30 years, and the Administration’s newer programs have never been authorized.


Restores regular order, which requires authorizing before appropriating. Committee oversight is strengthened by authorizing programs within its jurisdiction.


The president has broad discretion to determine how, when, where, and why these funds are spent.


Reigns-in the Executive by establishing clear goals and objectives that align international food security and disaster assistance with broader U.S. economic, humanitarian, and national security interests.


Effective oversight is nearly impossible given current ad hoc coordination and disparate reporting requirements among 11 different federal departments and agencies.



Strengthens transparency and accountability by establishing robust monitoring and reporting requirements that will enable Congress, for the first time, to assess the full scope of U.S. investments in international food security.


Reliance upon dated, less flexible approaches to delivering aid limits the ability of the U.S. to respond to refugees’ most pressing needs in real time.


Authorizes the Emergency Food Security Program to better meet the needs of Syrian refugees and others in their regions, reducing emergency migration.