RICHMOND, Texas — When the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) formed in 2004, the U.S. envisioned grand goals of poverty reduction and economic expansion in the developing world, but unfortunately, not all of these dreams have come to fruition. Many of the world’s impoverished are out of this public company’s reach due to excessive red tape and recent moves in Congress have occurred to combat this unnecessary hurdle. Opening up middle-income regions to MCC’s charity will not only alleviate the pain and suffering of millions but will also be an incredibly wise investment as some of those areas have proven themselves to be quite important to the states. Given the bipartisan support behind this deregulation, it is important to evaluate the bill that encompasses all of these proposals, H.R. 8463 and its strengths. With the past successes of MCC in mind, there is a lot of potential within the foreign aid department that is merely waiting to be tapped into.
Currently speaking, a nation qualifies for MCC financing when its GDP per capita is $4,255 USD or lower. This cutoff means that 81 countries benefit from the corporation’s generosity, states that are amongst the most disadvantaged. While the construction of infrastructure and the reconstruction of democracy in these lands is nothing to minimize, there are quite a few territories that lie between the well-off and the disparaged. These middle-of-the-road regions have a lot of unmet needs, needs that MCC has largely ignored thanks to legislative barriers.
Among H.R. 8463 and its strengths, the main amendment would allow MCC to invest in countries that have the same GNI as the 125th poorest nation or lower. This would increase the number of states receiving MCC aid from the present day 81 to an impressive 125. Looking at this expansion in terms of influence, 98% of the world’s poor (living on less than $3.20/day, as the World Bank defined) would now be at arm’s reach of the company, leaving very few needy individuals outside of the group’s assistance.
That kind of action is imperative following COVID-19’s wrath, which increased Latin America’s impoverishment figure by 5 million. This novel expenditure is not merely throwing money at the problem, however, the same usual code of conduct MCC subscribes to will remain in place, and the evaluation of project success will reach completion with the wealth of the country in mind. This is a component of H.R. 8463 and its strengths, and it aims to avoid any possible discrepancies in funding as some populations would be starting off on a much greater foot.
The Reason the US Should Care
While it is merely the moral thing to do, to assist the unfortunate when one has the means to, many may argue that the U.S. does not have money to spare. The nation is, after all, nearly $31 trillion in debt and the deficit only seems to be growing. One cannot deny the importance of that reality, but to focus merely on this dilemma disregards how smart these key investments could be. Latin America houses resources that U.S. citizens heavily rely on and strengthening diplomatic ties down there is an intelligent plan of action.
President Biden has recently loosened U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, opening the door for possible oil production in the region in a few years. Such talks are critical at a time in which the price at the pump is incredibly high, and U.S. citizens could potentially save hundreds of dollars if all goes well. The revamped import chain is contingent on the return of “free and fair elections” in Venezuela, and America is hoping the economic growth they could provide would be enough of an incentive.
This is precisely why MCC involvement in Central and South America is so pivotal. If the U.S. can build trust and goodwill with nations like Venezuela through charity and financial support, the U.S. could get just as much in return. With inflation soaring, the strength of the dollar diminishing, and U.S. citizens being stretched thin, there is no time like the present to bring H.R. 8463 and its strengths to the table. The U.S. is not experiencing exclusion from the benefits of a larger, more responsive MCC, if anything, they are the main beneficiary.
H.R. 8463’s Current Status
So far, H.R. 8463 has only passed the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and received an introduction to the Chamber of Congress at large. There has been no official vote on the bill and it has received very little publicity throughout the press. Given the nature of H.R. 8463 and its strengths, the inclusion of almost the entire global impoverished population within MCC’s market and the positive geopolitical implications of this expansion for U.S. citizens, a large public cry of support is both necessary and warranted. Politicians care about their constituents above everything else and if the voters were to push for this legislation, it would most certainly have a chance of becoming law. After all, MCC originated under bipartisan unification, this Act enjoys bipartisan support and the only thing halting the legislative bus is its lack of fuel.
– Jacob Lawhern