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An image of the Capitol Building in Washington DC.

“Challenge is our Middle Name:” Key Issues for MCC in FY2022

We’re already a few weeks into the new fiscal year, but nevertheless it’s good to see the House Foreign Affairs Committee has plans to delve into the FY2022 budget request for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), alongside the requests for DFC and the Peace Corps. Looking only at the topline figure, MCC appears to fare well this year, coming in at $912 million. This is the highest request since FY2017 and equal to last year’s enacted level. But that topline belies a major recission of $515 million in unobligated prior year funds, which could have real implications for the agency’s operations now and in the future.

An image of land impacted by a drought due to climate change.

A Hot Topic: The Role of US Development Assistance in Addressing the Climate Crisis

With COP26 only weeks away, policymakers around the world are focusing renewed attention on the climate crisis—and the US Congress is no exception. An upcoming House Foreign Affairs hearing, convened jointly by the Subcommittee on International Development, International Organizations, and Global Corporate Social Impact and the Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, the Environment and Cyber, will profile US plans to combat climate change through development assistance.  

An image of Chinese currency on a map of Africa.

The US Trade Representative Outlined a New US-China Trade Policy. What Does This Mean for Africa?

After a lengthy review of the Trump administration’s trade policy toward China, the Biden administration unveiled its approach on October 4th. It is the conclusion of the Biden administration that structural inequities in trade relations remain, and that China is not compliant with Phase I of the agreement it reached with the Trump administration. The American position, as outlined by US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, carries implications for African economies.

An image of a US dollar bill.

Diplomacy is Good, But the D in DFC is for Development

The US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) has been operating for less than two years, and already some lawmakers are keen to expand its mandate. On the one hand, it’s good to see such appreciation for the tools of development finance. On the other, we share deep misgivings about proposals that would authorize—and even encourage—DFC investment in upper-middle-income and high-income countries absent a strong developmental objective or justification.

An image of the US Capitol Building.

A Domestic US Development Bank in the Works? Lessons from the MDBs

In the 117th Congress, US lawmakers have introduced four separate proposals to establish a national development bank. Three would set up national green finance institutions; the fourth would focus more broadly on providing public financing for high-tech domestic manufacturing, including green technology. (A version of the National Climate Bank proposal—or “Clean Energy Accelerator”—could soon come to the House floor as part of the Democratic budget reconciliation measure).

An image of two Afghan children walking.

Giving up the “Statebuilding” Ghost: Lessons from Afghanistan for Foreign Assistance in Fragile States

The end of America’s twenty-year war in Afghanistan will change many paradigms that have dominated US foreign policy for decades. President Biden’s recent assertion that military interventions are not the solution to humanitarian crises is a good place to start.  Just as urgent is the need to revisit the notion that foreign assistance can build a state.

An image of US missiles.

Does Focus Follow Money in National Security?

If your toolbox is overflowing with precision guided munitions, the problems you will focus on are ones that (arguably) can be solved with precision guided munitions. Our comparatively tepid response to the pandemic is another sign of the longstanding and excessive prioritization of potential violent over present nonviolent threats to national security.

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