VEGA Applauds Congress and President Obama for Strengthening International Development

By , Managing Director of Communications and Advocacy

Congress recently passed two bills that will go a long way to improve U.S. international development efforts: Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act and the Global Food Security Act. Both were passed with notable bipartisan support and are expected to be signed by the president. VEGA joins with InterAction and the dozens of organizations that advocated for these critical reforms in thanking supportive members of Congress and President Obama. VEGA applauds the bipartisan leadership and also welcomes these additions to President Obama’s legacy.

VEGA CEO Michael Deal stated:

On behalf of VEGA and our 25 volunteer-sending international development and economic growth member organizations, we are sincerely thankful for the tireless and fruitful efforts of the bipartisan congressional champions, President Obama and his administration, and our colleagues who have long advocated for these reforms to continue and strengthen the impact of U.S. foreign assistance. VEGA was founded to facilitate the global deployment of expert volunteers to lift millions from poverty to prosperity with market-based expert assistance from the U.S.—a promise embodied in the Global Food Security Act. We also welcome the enhanced efficacy expected from the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act.

On July 5, the House of Representatives followed the Senate and unanimously passed the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2016 (FATA, H.R. 3766). The notable unanimity was the result of a years-long effort in Congress led by bipartisan cosponsors Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). President Obama is expected to sign this legislation which codifies several policies of his administration.

FATA strengthens transparency and accountability in U.S. development and economic assistance, including by requiring more complete information on the ForeignAssistance.gov website and increasing oversight and reporting requirements. These measures will provide American taxpayers and the government with access to critical information for understanding foreign assistance and strengthening the efficacy of programs and spending. Practitioners and partner country governments and citizens will also benefit from better data, oversight and impact.

VEGA was pleased to join with InterAction and other international development practitioners and foreign policy experts to support this legislation. Read the coalition support letter here and learn more from our colleagues at the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network.

The Global Food Security Act of 2016 (GFSA, S. 1252) passed the House of Representatives on July 6 with an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 369 to 53 (of which 186 were Republican and 183 were Democrats), after having already cleared the Senate by a voice vote. This law was also years in the making, led by bipartisan cosponsors Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-PA) who were joined by fourteen other senators, and introduced in the House by Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Betty McCollum (D-MN) along with 10 original cosponsors—which grew to an impressive coalition of 128 members. In addition, the congressional leaders and the key committees played essential roles in shaping and shepherding the GFSA: House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the House and Senate Agriculture Committees.

VEGA CEO Mike Deal stated:

VEGA is grateful to these congressional champions for their demonstrated commitment to end global hunger and malnutrition and support the efforts of small-scale farmers working hard to move from poverty to prosperity. We look forward to engaging our network of more than 100,000 volunteers to make the vision of the GFSA a reality.

VEGA also joined with the 44 other organizations that campaigned together for the legislation in thanking members of Congress: “The Global Food Security Act is an exciting step forward in building the political will needed to end global hunger and malnutrition in our lifetime.” You may read the thank you letter here.

President Obama is expected to sign the GFSA which codifies his administration’s successful Feed the Future Initiative, a multi-agency coordinated strategy to increase sustainable and equitable agricultural production, reduce hunger, and improve nutrition in developing countries. It will also direct more assistance to small-scale producers and provide new tools to continue to improve on the work VEGA and other organizations do in partnership with the U.S. government, such as the Farmer-to-Farmer program. You can learn more about how volunteers are providing expertise to small-scale farmers around the globe on FARMER-TO-FARMER.org.

As VEGA member Land O’Lakes Inc. President & CEO Chris Policinski wrote for The Hill:

As the old adage says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” This bill brings together the best of America — our farmers, NGOs, businesses, and U.S. government development professionals at USAID– to do just that.

Learn more about the GFSA from InterAction. VEGA is a proud member of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based international development and humanitarian NGOs, with over 180 member organizations operating in every developing country.

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