WASHINGTON D.C. — There are key members of Congress who support foreign aid in both major parties and in both the House and the Senate. Despite often being perceived as a partisan issue, widespread support for at least maintaining the foreign aid budget remains in place.
There are several notable members of Congress, however, who go above and beyond in their support of the foreign aid budget.
Senator John McCain (R) of Arizona
McCain’s illustrious senate career is notable for his consistent and unwavering support for maintaining the foreign aid budget. In response to proposed cuts to aid programs in 2017, McCain leveraged his position as chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee to voice opposition to the cuts and highlighted their importance for national security.
McCain has also been willing to criticize leading figures within his own party as part of his support. In 2012, in response to the increasing instability in North Africa, McCain described the suggestion of foreign aid cuts as ‘idiocy’ at a time when withholding aid to Egypt and Libya was a major point of discussion in Congress.
Representative Eliot Engel (D) of New York’s 16th District
Engel serves as the ranking minority member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which gives him a platform to advocate for and defend foreign aid — an opportunity he has taken full advantage of. Engel was notably outspoken this year at the proposed cuts to foreign aid, and he released a statement condemning the move as a betrayal of American values and U.S. leadership in lifting developing nations out of poverty.
Engel is a regular speaker on the floor of the house in support of the foreign aid budget. He has made several speeches highlighting public misconceptions over the extent of U.S. foreign aid and his tireless advocacy for soft power diplomacy has allowed global poverty alleviation to take center stage when it comes to discussions of foreign affairs in the House.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina
As chair of the Senate Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, Graham has used his position to become one of the most significant members of Congress who support foreign aid. “This budget destroys soft power,” Graham commented upon reviewing the proposed cuts to the foreign aid budget this year. His insistence that the cuts are “dead on arrival” gives strong support to continued U.S. leadership in tackling poverty abroad.
In the early stages of his 2016 presidential bid, Graham differentiated himself from other candidates with his strong advocacy for foreign aid. At his launch event in 2015, Graham emphasized the significance of foreign aid for national security and described it as the most powerful weapon in the U.S. Arsenal.
These members of Congress who support foreign aid need encouragement and plaudits for the stance they have taken. Their bipartisan support for a frequently unpopular expenditure demonstrates how important the foreign aid budget is to both poverty alleviation abroad and U.S. domestic interests.
– Jonathan Riddick