"The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (P.L. 87-195; 22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq.) serves as the cornerstone for the United States' foreign assistance policies and programs. Written, passed, and signed into law at what some consider the height of the Cold War, the Act is seen by some today as anachronistic. Ironically, when President Kennedy urged the 87th Congress to enact foreign aid legislation that would exemplify and advance the national interests and security strategies of the United States post-World War II, he described the existing foreign aid mechanisms as bureaucratic, fragmented, awkward, and slow. Some have used the same language today, nearly 50 years later, to characterize the legislation he promoted. There are indications that the 111th Congress may visit the issue of amending the current body of law that comprises foreign aid policy, starting with the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. This report presents the executive branch authorities of that Act, and correlates those authorities with the operative appropriations measure (P.L. 110-161, as continued by P.L. 110-329) that funds those authorities. For many years, annual foreign aid appropriations measures have waived the requirement that funds must be authorized before they are appropriated and expended. Understanding the relation between the authorities in the cornerstone Act and the appropriations is key to any consideration of reforming foreign aid legislation."
CRS Report for Congress, R40089