DENVER – United States Senator Mark Udall [D-CO] was defeated by U.S. Representative Cory Gardner [R-CO] in the 2014 midterm elections in November. Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are now controlled by the left, which includes democrats losing a seat in Colorado to Gardner. The power shift from left to right has brought up questions regarding how Colorado will address foreign aid issues.
The Colorado Effect
Gardner and Udall have conducted their foreign aid priorities differently over the years. Their opposing viewpoints ultimately affect how Colorado will vote on foreign aid bills moving forward with Gardner as senator.
When discussing the national budget in 2010, Gardner expressed his concern about where foreign aid dollars were going. He said there was a “renewed effort to examine and re-examine how our foreign aid dollars are being used and spent.” The Borgen Project reported in June 2013 that Gardner voted no on food aid reform. If the Food Aid Reform Act were passed, the distribution of U.S. food aid would have been expedited and cost-effective. In short, more people would be fed, and sooner.
Gardner’s vote against food aid reform is not an uncommon attitude when examining the national perspective regarding foreign aid. According to a Pew Research Center quiz, one third of Americans believe foreign aid outspends Social Security, transportation and debt interest. On the contrary, only one percent of the U.S. budget is set aside for foreign aid. Due to misinformation, a previous Pew poll showed foreign aid cuts being most desired.
Udall held his Senate seat as a strong supporter of foreign aid. He stated in the Citizens for Global Solutions: 2008 Senate questionnaire that it is important for the United States to lead the fight against global poverty. He cosponsored the 2001 Hunger to Harvest: Decade of Support for Sub-Saharan Africa Resolution to reduce hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa. Udall also voted no against the United Nations Reform Act to avoid U.S. contribution to the United Nations from being cut up to one-half by the year 2007.
Udall also cosponsored Senate Resolution 109 (112th Congress, 2011 – 2013), which honors and supports women in North Africa and the Middle East. The resolution honors the women who have fought for the equality and basic human rights of women. It also recognizes how empowering women can contribute to national economic growth and democracy.
As much as foreign aid is about charity, it is just as much an investment. New York University economics professor, Daniel Altman made a compelling case. Altman explained as an example that saving a child in Guatemala from malaria may cost about $16. However, that child could potentially purchase nearly $100 a year worth of American goods and services throughout their working life. As a result, $16 worth of American output would generate $100 a year of American output 15 or 20 years later. Altman concluded that at an annual discounted rate of five percent, for example, the U.S. would produce a total return of approximately 6,000 percent.
The Future of Foreign Aid
The power shift evident in Colorado’s senate seat will influence the priority of foreign aid. With a right-controlled Senate and House, Gardner voting against crucial bills such as food aid reform may have a greater impact. If many constituents believe foreign aid should be cut, the prospect of passing foreign aid bills could be affected that much more in the coming year.
– Brittany Mannings