Millennium Challenge Corporation needs leaders confirmed

Greg Nash

As we watch and listen to policymakers discuss immigration policy, much of that debate refers to conditions in the migrants’ home countries and the need to address and improve conditions there in order to help slow and manage the flow of people trying to enter our country illegally. However, most have not discussed that one of the institutions designed to help underdeveloped and struggling nations succeed, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), is effectively leaderless thanks to political stalemate and an unjustified refusal to confirm competent and qualified leadership.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an independent U.S. foreign assistance agency, was established with broad bipartisan support in January 2004. At the time of its establishment, I was the chief counsel to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) who, along with President George W. Bush and a host of other advocates from across the political spectrum, was a strong proponent of the MCC.

The agency was designed to deliver aid differently, with a mission and model reflecting key principles of aid effectiveness. MCC has a single objective — reducing poverty through economic growth — which allows it to pursue development objectives in a targeted way unique from other American aid organizations.

I have seen firsthand the incredible success that MCC has had in projecting U.S. interests around the world and helping people through a rational, efficient model for international development. MCC has been consistently recognized as a successful model for international investment and bipartisan agreement in pursuit of shared objectives.{mosads}

The MCC is organized under a Senate-confirmed CEO and bipartisan board of directors. The MCC board of directors is comprised of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the U.S. Trade Representative, the Administrator of USAID, the CEO of MCC, and four private sector members appointed by the President of the United States with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.

The Secretary of State serves as the Chair of the Board and the Secretary of the Treasury serves as the Vice Chair.

Currently, the CEO position is vacant, and the agency is being managed in an acting capacity by career officials. Also vacant are three of the four private sector positions on the board. Sean Cairncross was first nominated to serve as MCC CEO in January 2018. After clearing the foreign relations committee in March of 2018, Mr. Cairncross’ nomination languished through 2018. His nomination expired at the end of the 115th Congress without receiving a confirmation vote in front of the full Senate. Similarly, Susan McCue, George Marcus, and Alexander Crenshaw, a bipartisan group who were nominated to fill the three vacant private sector positions on the Board in 2018, likewise were denied a confirmation vote in the Senate before their nominations expired at the of the last congress.

MCC cannot function appropriately with temporary or vacant leadership. Like all institutions, MCC needs permanent, complete leadership and oversight in order to be able effectively to fulfill its critical mission.

Mr. Cairncross is a smart, talented attorney with years of public service and public policy expertise. Similarly, Ms. McCue, Mr. Marcus and Mr. Crenshaw are eminently qualified in their own right to help steward MCC’s critical work. All three of them have shown through their prior service a deep interest and competent expertise in the United States’ role in international development and assistance. I have had the honor to work with and know all of these dedicated public servants — from very disparate political backgrounds — throughout my career. All four are examples of Americans from different sides of the aisle who love this country and have shown a willingness to dedicate their time and talents to support the important work of institutions like the MCC.

Fortunately, President Trump renominated all four of these highly qualified individuals last month and sent their nominations to the Senate for consideration. I urge the Senate to quickly confirm these nominees to their respective positions at MCC so that it can continue to fulfill its proven and successful model of international engagement and assistance in some of the poorest counties in the world.

Alex Vogel is CEO of The Vogel Group and was chief counsel to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist when the Millennium Challenge Corporation was created in 2004.

Tags Alexander Crenshaw Bill Frist Donald Trump Donald Trump George Marcus Millennium Challenge Corporation Sean Cairncross Susan McCue

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