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CLINTON CONFIRMATION: Foreign Assistance

To contrast with Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-S.C.) question about American sovereignty, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) swings over to the progressive side by asking Clinton about foreign development assistance for the benighted places of the globe. He wants to go beyond just being told that Jack Lew will be on it. “How do we ensure that we elevate foreign assistance?”

Clinton: “You have my commitment that it will be pursued vigorously. It is an area that I care deeply about,” mentioning her early career. She wants “to put in place a system that will, number one, rationalize what we have in there now” not just in the State Department or the U.S. Agency for International Development, but other agencies’ programs. “We’ve got to get a handle on the contracting out of personnel,” she reiterates, referring to USAID. “Let’s put a coordinator in the White House” maybe, she proposes, for aid programs. Praises the Millennium Challenge Corporation, an independent entity, and says “we’ve got to get our arms around what you could think of as traditional foreign aid — health, education… and the like” while also getting a handle on “security, stability, [and] reconstruction.” Says Jack Lew will be “the point of accountability” on coordinating “our resource decisions … Sec. Gates is open to the case,” as is President-elect Obama.

“They’re committed to moving assets back to the State Department,” she says, “but we have to prove we’re ready to take them on.” Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen is probably jumping with joy.

And with that, we’re recessing until 2 p.m. EST.

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