(Senate Foreign Relations Committee Press Release, May 6, 2020)

(U.S. Senator James Risch, Official Photo)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Todd Young (R-Ind.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah), today introduced the Multilateral Aid Review Act of 2020 ( MAR Act) to review and improve the accountability and effectiveness of U.S. participation in international organizations.  The MAR Act would establish an interagency task force with peer review to conduct an evaluation of how well multilateral institutions carry out their missions and how they serve American interests and taxpayers.

“As the world’s most generous humanitarian and development donor, it is important that the United States knows where our taxpayers’ dollars are going,” said Risch.  “The MAR Act will require a report from a Multilateral Review Task Force which will provide the necessary insight to make informed decisions on how to prioritize our financial contributions.  As we have seen most recently with questionable actions taken by the World Health Organization in response to the spread of COVID-19, it is critically important to have accountability and oversight of our assistance.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has shed new light on China’s disturbing behavior and growing influence within international, multilateral organizations.  As China’s influence grows in these organizations, U.S. taxpayers are on the hook and we must ensure our tax dollars are being spent to advance America’s interests both at home and abroad.  We are facing significant global challenges such as the coronavirus pandemic, human rights abuses, nuclear proliferation, and global economic crises, but these challenges do not mean that we should blindly contribute to these organizations,” said Young.  “Americans deserve both transparency and accountability for how their tax dollars are being spent and by establishing this new Multilateral Review Task Force, we will be able to better understand and determine whether our interests and values are being upheld and advanced by organizations like the World Health Organization.”

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“For over seventy years, the United States has led the postwar world order in part through our leadership in international institutions,” said Perdue.  “However, over that time span, the world has drastically changed.  Global issues have grown more complex, new powers have ascended, and the United States now faces its own set of challenges, including a $24 trillion debt crisis.  America has always been the most generous country in the world, but we need to ensure every dollar we contribute advances our national interests.”

“While U.S. engagement in international organizations is important to advancing our interests and objectives, we must ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used effectively and transparently,” said Rubio.   “I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bill that will allow us to do just that by conducting a review on multilateral organizations.”

“It is in our nation’s best interest that we have accountability and transparency of our investments in international organizations,” said Romney.  “As China pursues its predatory path on the world stage, this legislation can help equip the U.S. to prioritize our investments in a way that aligns with our foreign policy objectives and counters China’s efforts to gain influence in international organizations.”

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The MAR Act establishes four goals: to provide a tool to guide U.S. decision making for multilateral entities, to provide a methodological basis for allocating budgetary resources, to incentivize improvements in the performance of multilateral entities, and to protect American taxpayer investments by promoting transparency.

Key provisions of the MAR Act include:

  • The establishment of an interagency Multilateral Review Task Force, chaired by the secretary of state.
  • The establishment of the United States Multilateral Aid Review Peer Review Group to assist the task force and provide expertise. Members are appointed by congressional leaders.
  • The submission of a report from the Multilateral Review Task Force, with consultation from the Multilateral Aid Review Peer Review Group, to designated committees that describes the findings of the multilateral aid review.

Full text of the legislation can be found on the SFRC website, https://www.foreign.senate.gov/#sfrc.

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