Rep. Lee Proposes Nonmilitary Assistance of 1% GDP
On January 4, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced a bill, “Expressing the sense of Congress that the United States should provide, on an annual basis, an amount equal to at least one percent of United States gross domestic product (GDP) for nonmilitary foreign assistance programs.” The bill notes that despite the U.S.’s commitment to achieving the U.N.’s Millenium Development Goals, “in 2009, the United States was in the bottom five of the world’s 23 wealthiest countries in official development assistance funding as a percentage of gross national income (GNI), totaling $28.7 billion and representing 0.2 percent.” The bill resolves “that foreign assistance programs are of critical importance in promoting national security, demonstrating the humanitarian spirit of the people of the United States, and improving the credibility and standing of the United States in world affairs.” The bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rush Holt (D-NJ), and has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
On January 7, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a new member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called ”for a gradual reduction of American foreign aid” during a visit to Jerusalem. Paul stated that the U.S. can’t afford to keep handing out money, and that the aid was creating a potentially harmful arms race in the Middle East. In the Jerusalem Post, Corinne and Robert Sauer write that “US foreign aid to the Middle East is a costly experiment with dubious benefits. By fueling a regional arms race, the security of its residents, both Israeli and non, is threatened and the prospects for further regional economic development are hindered.”
Rolf Rosenkranz found differing opinions over the impact of the deal to avoid the fiscal cliff on non-military foreign assistance funding, with initial estimates of program cuts ranging from $100 million to $300 million.