CQ’s Adam Graham-Silverman citing Hill aides and people in the foreign aid community, reports today that Dr. Paul Farmer, recently considered as the most likely nominee to head the United States Agency for International Development, is no longer in the running for the job.
Rewire broke the story on the consideration of Farmer in mid- May.
Farmer, whose work improving health care in developing countries earned
him a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award in 1993, has been the only
name mentioned in foreign aid circles in recent months. A spokesman for
Farmer said he was in Rwanda and could not be reached. The White House
declined to comment.
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Farmer’s withdrawal, continues the article, "would send the administration back to the drawing board to fill a critical position that will be a centerpiece of efforts to overhaul foreign aid."
During a town hall-style meeting at USAID last month, notes Graham-Silverman,
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the delay in naming an administrator “frustrating beyond words” and blamed the White House’s protracted, “ridiculous” vetting process for discouraging several candidates. “Some very good people, you know, just didn’t want to be vetted,” she said.
It is uncertain whether Farmer took himself out of the running or
whether the vetting uncovered issues that would complicate his
Many in the foreign aid community interviewed by Graham-Silverman expressed disappointment.
“The continued delays in naming a new head for AID are becoming concerning,” said a Foreign Relations Committee aide. “With the QDDR [quadrennial diplomacy and development review] under way and strategies for Afghanistan and other priorities being implemented with big consequences for AID, not having a political voice in the room is beginning to open the door to longer lasting damage.”
Todd Shelton, director of public policy and advocacy for InterAction, called the news of his withdrawal “very disappointing.”
As the CQ story notes:
Farmer and his Boston-based organization, Partners in Health, which
operates in six developing countries, are widely lauded, but he has
never been directly involved in Washington politics. [He]
has pushed for results-based programs that work closely with local
governments, an approach that may tangle with parts of the USAID
bureaucracy. [And his] work in Rwanda gets funding from the
foundation run by former President Bill Clinton, the husband of the
secretary of State.
The empty chair in the USAID Administrator’s office weighs on those tasked with overhauling foreign aid.
"Both the House and Senate are considering changes to overseas aid
programs," said CQ.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard L. Berman,
D-Calif., is circulating a blueprint for a complete rewrite of the 1961
law that governs foreign aid spending. Senate Foreign Relations
Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., expects to mark up a bill (S 1524) after
the August recess that would take more modest measures to strengthen
USAID as a first step to broader change.
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