It is time for a paradigm shift in U.S. foreign aidOp-Ed
The following op-ed by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) appears in The Hill’s Congress Blog ahead of the full House’s consideration of the Global Food Security Act tonight:
America needs to rethink how we distribute our foreign aid around the world. I came to Congress on the promise of cutting wasteful government spending. There are plenty of examples of the government playing loose with taxpayer money, but none more so than how we spend our foreign aid dollars. Through my work on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I have come to appreciate the good that can be accomplished from well administered aid programs such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). When foreign assistance has a clear mission, buy-in from the aid-recipient country, and explicit metrics for implementation, the United States will be able to transition aid-recipient nations into strong trading partners. One of the greatest examples of this successful transition is South Korea.
Following the devastating war that ravaged the Korean Peninsula in the 1950’s, South Korea was a recipient nation of U.S.-aid starting in 1952. This aid was instrumental in South Korea’s recovery and survival. Since then, that country is now one of our top trading partners.
The United States has been leading the global effort to enhance world food security and bring hunger and malnutrition to an end for nearly six decades with mixed success. While there are many success stories, there are also the unfortunate stories of U.S. aid doing more harm than good by feeding corruption instead of the hungry.
It is time for a paradigm shift in the manner in which the United States administers foreign aid. This change will not happen overnight, but can be accomplished through small, incremental changes to the system. This is why I support Senate bill, S. 1252, the Global Food Security Act of 2016 (GFSA). This legislation will ensure we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.
The Global Food Security Act is the culmination of nearly three years of hard work and collaboration between the House Foreign Affairs and the House Agriculture committees as well as their Senate counterparts. The GFSA is a step in the right direction to reset our foreign aid and make it as effective as possible. It authorizes the International Disaster Assistance (IDA) program, which has not been updated in 30 years.
The GFSA will, for the first time, place limits on disaster aid and will establish monitoring and reporting requirements that will enable Congress to assess the full scope of U.S. investments in international food security. Furthermore, S.1252 will reassert Congress’s authority and rein in the Executive branch by establishing clear goals and objectives that align international food security and disaster assistance with broader U.S. national security, economic, and humanitarian interests. Recent experiences have shown that the U.S. being able to deliver effective emergency disaster assistance in places like Syria, would help bring an end to refugees attempting the dangerous journey to Europe.
Beyond authorizing IDA, the Global Food Security Act directs the President to develop a global food security strategy to promote food security, resilience, and nutrition. This strategy will require the United States to work with recipient-nations so they can help themselves and not rely on the United States. This will move us away from throwing money at various problems around the world, as we have done for nearly six decades, and eventually move recipient-nations of U.S.-aid to prosperous trading partners.
My three and a half years in Congress has taught me that most change comes incrementally and, at times, frustratingly slow. Despite this realization, I remain committed to closing off the flow of wasteful government spending and reining in an overreaching Executive branch. Retooling how we spend our foreign aid dollars, making sure we have a clear mission, and implementing proper oversight, is the right thing to do for the long-term health and stability of our nation. The Global Food Security Act of 2016 is a good first step in accomplishing these goals. It is time for a paradigm shift in trade not just aid.
Rep. Ted Yoho serves on the Foreign Affairs and Agriculture Committees. He represents North Florida’s 3rd Congressional District.