Profile: Delaware Senator Chris Coons

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WASHINGTON — Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) has been a senator for almost nine years now, having been sworn into office on November 15, 2010. Since then, Coons has been a champion for foreign aid policies and is one of the most vocal proponents of the numerous benefits that foreign aid policies have to offer.

According to Sen. Coons’s website, he believes that America has both the capability and responsibility to play a lead role in foreign affairs. He believes that the goals of America’s foreign policy should be to minimize threats, maximize resources and protect and advance America’s interests. Coons stresses that foreign aid can be used to achieve these goals as it promotes stability, deters terrorism and supports allies.

Committee and Subcommittee Positions

In order to be more actively involved in America’s foreign policy, Senator Coons began serving as a member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee during the 113th Congress. He has continued to serve as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee through the 114th, 115th and 116th Congress.

Coons has also served as chair on the Subcommittee on African and Global Policy in order to promote trade, investment, governance and security with African countries. Coons has leveraged his position as co-chair of the Human Rights Caucus to promote good governance and strengthen democratic institutions in Africa to protect the interests of African people. Coons has also shown concern for healthcare in Africa and has risen to the position of co-chair of Senate Caucus on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Proposed and Sponsored Legislation

Senator Chris Coons has used his various committee and subcommittee positions to sponsor numerous acts and initiatives relating to foreign aid. He has demonstrated a strong focus on building mutually beneficial relationships with sub-Saharan Africans by promoting trade and investment with numerous African countries.

Coons has also been a vocal supporter of foreign assistance to other countries, particularly for healthcare and hunger issues. Listed below are six acts and initiatives that he has sponsored (or co-sponsored) or that have been advanced with Coons’ direct support through the committees and subcommittees that he serves on. All of them are directed towards issues of foreign aid and assistance.

  • African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)- In 2015, Coons was able to get a 10-year reauthorization for the African Growth and Opportunity Act. This act assists in the economic development of African countries and encourages the construction of free markets. This act has been mutually beneficial to both the United States and sub-Saharan African countries. In 2017, there was a 5.8 percent increase in trade. The top goods the United States exports to sub-Saharan Africa include machinery, vehicles and electrical machinery.
  • Electrify Africa Act- Coons spearheaded the Electrify Africa Act, an act designed to provide 50 million Africans with access to electricity by leveraging private sector loan resources by providing guarantees for the loans. This initiative will also stimulate economic growth for African countries. The bill was met with unanimous support from both parties in Congress. It plans to make energy more accessible to African countries, which should assist with their development.
  • Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI)- This program brings young Africans to the United States for work experience. The act includes access regional leadership centers and the Mandela Washington Fellowship. The predominant objective of this act is to assist young people in achieving independence through academic coursework, leadership training and networking. The bill has remained effective as 700 young Africans were given the opportunity to boost their skill sets in 2019.
  • Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act- Co-sponsored by Coons, this act has called for a reorganization of the reporting and evaluating of current U.S. foreign assistance programs to ensure proper use of finances for solving issues of hunger and poverty. This bill provides guidelines that include monitoring resource use, evaluating outcomes and impacts for foreign policy plans and applying findings and conclusions to improve current programs.
  • Global Food Security Act- This act invests in improving both farmer productivity and nutrition for women and children. It has proven successful and helped improve the livelihood and productivity of seven million farmers worldwide. This act calls for a course of action that includes developing a comprehensive food security strategy and improving coordination among U.S. federal agencies. It will aslo put stronger reporting, oversight and accountability measures into place.
  • Reach Every Mother and Child Act- This act is one of Coons’s current projects to invest in ending infant and child mortality and improve maternal care. This act has had bipartisan support and was co-sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). It has the capacity to save or assist 15 million children and 600,000 mothers by 2020 by improving coordination in U.S. agencies and current policies relating to maternal and newborn health.

Since being elected into office, Senator Chris Coons has been one of the Senate’s most vocal proponents on the importance of foreign aid in developing countries. As he states, “I recently had the chance to see the impact that USAID and our programs to assist the hungry and needy around the world can make in stabilizing fragile states and preventing them from becoming failed states.” Senators like Chris Coons are important in Congress today to remind the U.S. government of the importance of foreign aid for both the United States and the world.

Randall Costa
Photo: Getty Images

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