Foreign Assistance Act of 1961: Authorizations and Corresponding Appropriations [July 29, 2011]   [open pdf - 343KB]

"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. On several occasions over the past 20 years, Congress has set out to assess the current body of law that comprises foreign aid policy, starting with the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. The Foreign Affairs and Foreign Relations Committees, in recent past Congresses, have considered legislation to rebuild the United States' capacity to deliver effective foreign aid, and make aid more transparent and responsive to today's quick-changing international challenges. Proposals have ranged from setting up advisory committees to a complete overhaul of foreign aid objectives and programs. This report presents the authorities of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, and correlates those authorities with the operative appropriations measure (division F of P.L. 111-117; 123 Stat. 3312, as continued by Section 1101(a)(6) of the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011; P.L. 112-10; 125 Stat. 38) that funds those authorities. For many years, 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 appropriations is key to foreign aid reform."

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CRS Report for Congress, R40089
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