Berman foreign aid reforms tackle climate change

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Berman said he has spent the past five years working on the bill with input from Republicans, the State Department and non-governmental organizations. He said he wanted to give it a final push before leaving Congress following his electoral defeat and that he felt confident foreign policy leaders in the House and Senate would give it a fair hearing, because both parties agree foreign aid needs to be revamped.

“I think they see the value of taking this on,” he said of the House panel's incoming chairman and ranking members, Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).

The bill doesn't spell out specific amounts or regional programs, but rather creates new requirements and priorities for the disbursement of foreign aid. These include a section on “Sustaining the Global Environment,” which permits activities aimed at addressing climate change, and another on “Advancing Peace” that calls for the creation of a Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations.

“As a general principle we want to get away from earmarking,” Berman said. 

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who worked on the last foreign assistance authorization to make it into law as a Senate staffer in the 1980s.