Sen. Jesse Helms Proposes Eliminating USAID, Shifting Funds to Private Organizations
Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) yesterday proposed eliminating the U.S. Agency for International Development and referred to the agency's staff as the "do-nothing crowd," the Washington Times reports. In a speech before the American Enterprise Institute, Helms said that USAID should be replaced with a new agency that would distribute block grants to private and faith-based organizations that pursue humanitarian projects in foreign countries. Helms said that organizations like Samaritan's Purse, Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services and other "armies of compassion" are better suited to serve the needy of the world than USAID (Carter, Washington Times, 1/12). He added that USAID only "lined the pockets of corrupt dictators, while funding the salaries of a growing bloated bureaucracy" (New York Times/Richmond Times Dispatch, 1/12). With an annual budget of $7.6 billion, USAID is an independent federal development agency that extends assistance to countries that are recovering from natural disasters, engaging in democratic reforms and implementing HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns. USAID has projects in 80 countries and has funded more than 300 independent organizations (Mufson, Washington Post, 1/12). Helms said, "The time has come to reject what President Bush correctly labels the 'failed compassion of towering, distant bureaucracies' and instead, empower private and faith-based groups who care most about those in need" (New York Times/Richmond Times Dispatch, 1/12). In a "conciliatory statement" responding to Helms, USAID Administrator J. Brady Anderson said, "I agree with Senator Helms on the important role that faith-based organizations can, and do, play in our foreign assistance program. ... I think we have made progress during my tenure in expanding our partnership with these organizations, whose work is critical to ... millions around the world." However, Brady did not address Helms' call to shut down the agency (Washington Times, 1/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.