Lawmakers question OMB on role in State Dept., USAID reorganization


Top lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney on Tuesday demanding to know what role the agency will play in reorganizing the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The letter, signed by committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), ranking member Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), among others, states that while the State Department and USAID have been forthcoming with details regarding their impending reorganization, the OMB has not clarified what role it will play in the two agencies’ transformation.

“Congress has a critical role to play in the ongoing reform process. Without Congressional assent, reform will not be sustainable over the long-term. Though we have held periodic meetings with teams from the State Department and USAID, we have yet to engage with OMB on the role that it will play in this process,” the lawmakers wrote.

{mosads}”We request that you and your colleagues brief us as soon as possible on the role you intend to play and your work to date … and engage directly and often with Congress before taking any actions to implement reform proposals that affect the instruments of U.S. foreign diplomacy and development,” the letter concludes.

The Trump administration plans to merge the two organizations while cutting foreign aid, according to news reports. Lawmakers in their letter expressed concern that “poor planning” around foreign aid by the Trump administration could cause major problems abroad.

“Smart investments in diplomacy and development can help accelerate economic growth, create opportunity, prevent the spread of infectious diseases, stabilize communities, and mitigate the need for costly military interventions that put our Armed Forces in harm’s way,” the lawmakers wrote. “Poor planning and execution can have the exact opposite effect.”

In April, a former administrator of USAID under President George W. Bush blasted the Trump administration’s plans for the agency, warning the U.S. would “pay the price.”

“That will end the technical expertise of USAID, and in my view, it will be an unmitigated disaster for the longer term,” Andrew Natsios said in April. “I predict we will pay the price. We will pay the price for the poorly thought out and ill-considered organization changes that we’re making, and cuts in spending as well.”

– This story was updated at 6:53 p.m.

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