By Kyra Luck, ONE U.S. Government Relations Intern
Armed with bipartisan endorsements, Ambassador Mark Green secured the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s support this week for his nomination for USAID Administrator. The nomination will now move to a full Senate, who will hopefully confirm him before Congress breaks for its August recess.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) endorsed Green’s nomination, emphasizing that Green has made a lifetime career “advocating for the people who cannot advocate for themselves.”
He’s right: Green’s professional achievements speak for themselves. Currently the president of the International Republican Institute, Green served four consecutive terms in the House of Representatives. And while in Congress, he helped craft foreign aid legislation – one of the most notable bills being the one that created the Millennium Challenge Corporation. After his time on the Hill, Green served as the Ambassador to Tanzania.
Mark Green’s history of missionary, legislative, and non-profit work should make him well-suited for this position at USAID. In Speaker Ryan’s own words: “This is his North Star. This is his life’s work.”
Endorsements from Speaker Ryan, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) showed a bipartisan consensus that Mark Green is the “right person” to lead USAID, especially given his experience, expertise, and passion for foreign assistance. The committee appeared to share the same belief: At the start of the hearing, one member even jokingly asked if the committee should just vote.
But the hearing consisted of more than just affirmations of Green’s character and accomplishments. The proposed 2018 budget definitely cast a shadow over the committee’s proceedings. Earlier in the week, Secretary Rex Tillerson appeared before the same committee to defend President Trump’s proposed cut to foreign assistance — a proposal we’ve said would be disastrous for those living in extreme poverty. As such, many senators focused on the following themes in their lines of questioning:
- Foreign aid is essential to promoting America’s national security;
- Commitments to foreign assistance have historically had bipartisan support;
- Foreign aid has been highly effective and increasingly efficient;
- If America retreats from the world, what will fill that void?
The arguments weren’t unique to this hearing. During the hearing with Sec. Rex Tillerson, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) voiced support for the foreign assistance budget and highlighted the budget’s extraordinary dividends. Senator Rubio reminded the committee that foreign aid has “brought real successes” and that it only accounts for approximately 1% of the budget even though “some people think it’s like 25 or 30.”
But it was Senator Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) words that tied the two discussions (Green’s nomination and the 2018 budget) together when he said, “I know from being American that your budget reflects your values… I worry that those values that you [Mark Green] are expressing might not be expressed and seen within our budget.”
The budget has yet to be passed, so the fate of foreign aid remains in limbo. However, listening to Mark Green’s hearing should remind senators of the amazing work USAID does and the importance of fighting to maintain the current foreign assistance budget.