Wall Street Journal Examines Bush Administration’s Efforts To Consolidate Foreign Aid Under State Department for Issues Such as HIV/AIDS
The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday examined the Bush administration's efforts to consolidate foreign aid programs under the U.S. State Department -- which directs funds for global assistance, including HIV/AIDS initiatives. Randall Tobias, USAID administrator and the first director of foreign assistance, is "[a]t the center" of the debate, as he has been charged with overhauling $16.6 billion in foreign assistance programs to give the State Department greater authority over how it distributes aid, the Journal reports. Under the proposed plan, State Department officials will determine their "strategic priorities" and then U.S. ambassadors in each country will decide which projects to fund in their respective countries, the Journal reports. According to Tobias, the Bush administration is "trying to ensure [it is] bringing all U.S. government foreign aid into a strategic package." Tobias added that currently, decisions regarding foreign aid appear random and often are a result of congressional mandates and judgments by six U.S. departments and agencies. The plan puts the Bush administration "at odds" with Congress, which has an "age-old prerogative of earmarking foreign-aid funds for favorite issues," the Journal reports. "My hope is Congress will see this strategic approach as a good substitute for a number of the earmarks [it is] dealing with today," Tobias said. A recent analysis of spending patterns in U.S. foreign aid by Tobias' staff finds that curbing HIV/AIDS in Africa is one of the main priorities of U.S. foreign policy, along with promoting security in the Middle East, fostering "post-Cold War partnerships" with Eastern Europe, stemming illicit drugs coming from the Andes mountain region and providing humanitarian assistance worldwide, the Journal reports (Phillips/Rogers, Wall Street Journal, 6/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.