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Sen. Coons addresses global aid priorities as new chair of subcommittee

Courtesy of the office of Sen. Chris Coons

Sen. Chris Coons was recently put in charge of the subcommittee responsible for billions of dollars in foriegn aid.


And he answered some questions about where his priorities lie.


As the chair of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, Coons will oversee a huge amount of money the U.S. government sends to programs such as the Peace Corps, the International Monetary Fund and United Nations activities.


Coons says one of his big priorities is to ensure that foreign aid is spent in places it will have the most impact.


“And to do that I'm gonna take a thorough look at pieces of that expenditure that really haven’t been re-examined or reconsidered in years,” he said. “I’m gonna look at some of the ways in which the world has changed in the decade that I’ve been here and how we can expect it to change going forward.”


Coons adds one big change in foreign aid is where the money’s coming from.


He says a few decades ago, most money headed to the developing world was direct grants from governments. Now, most is private sector investment in major projects.


Coons is a strong advocate for global health development, and notes during a crisis, it’s important to focus not just on providing relief, but building a strong foundation.


“We only get past a crisis and into development when we invest in the human resources of countries that are in development,” Coons said. “So I would see that as a key part in a development strategy rather than just a crisis response strategy.”


Coons visited Liberia amid the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and says he recognized the importance in both sending healthcare workers to relieve the local healthcare system, but also investing in the doctors and nurses on the ground in those West African countries.


Coons was also asked about increasing transparency of how global health funds are being used and the outcomes from that aid.


He says he was a co-sponsor of a foreign aid transparency bill that passed back in 2016, and says work is still ongoing to fully implement that law and ensure aid is being spent wisely.

Roman Battaglia a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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