USAID Administrator Shah Addresses Agency’s FY13 Budget Proposal At House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing

Speaking Tuesday at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said USAID’s FY 2013 budget proposal “is slightly lower than last year,” but that “future U.S. foreign aid investments will be more ‘prioritized, focused and concentrated,'” and he “promised that U.S. aid will still be able to meet global development challenges,” VOA’s “Breaking News” blog reports (3/21). “While foreign assistance represents less than one percent of our budget, we are committed to improving our efficiency and maximizing the value of every dollar,” Shah said, according to a transcript of his testimony. Shah outlined how the “budget prioritizes our USAID Forward suite of reforms,” noting efforts in the Global Health Initiative and Feed the Future programs, among others, according to his speech (3/20).

Shah “faced sharp questioning” from House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), “who called on USAID to consider cutting back aid to countries that no longer need support,” VOA writes (3/21). Ros-Lehtinen also expressed her objection to the budget proposal’s “increase in money for family planning and reproductive health [FP/RH], especially when all other global health accounts decline.” A press release on the committee’s website highlighted a letter Ros-Lehtinen sent to House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) detailing additional FP/RH funding concerns. According to the release, the letter expresses Ros-Lehtinen’s “objection to the Administration’s $39 million assistance to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)”; raises “the Committee Majority’s opposition to the Administration’s reversal of the Mexico City Policy,” or “global gag rule,” which banned federal funding from going to foreign non-governmental organizations that perform or provide information about or referral for the procedure as a method of family planning, using funds from any source; and states that “funding for family planning and reproductive health activities under the FY13 request should be reduced and re-allocated to critical sectors of global health currently marked for cuts” (3/21).

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