Obama Administration’s Second Term Aid Priorities: More of the Same?

By Anna Jensen-Clem

Following President Obama’s re-election on Tuesday evening, many are speculating on the Administration’s foreign aid priorities in the coming years. While the Obama Administration has not released specific details of its plan for foreign aid spending, the changing composition of the Senate, coupled with new aid initiatives in the next few years, means that we may see changes in priorities, distribution, and spending.

Before the election, both President Obama and Governor Romney released statements to the ONE Campaign detailing their plans for funding health and poverty initiatives; the president focused on “building on” PEPFAR, or the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. He also indicated that his administration would focus on funding for maternal and child health, food security, small farmers, and nutrition in the developing world. Specifically, he said his administration is “working with Africa’s people and leaders to responsibly invest in agriculture and increase productivity” in order to provide better food security, better health, and ward off pandemics.

The USGLC, in a brief paper released November 7th, speculated on the Obama Administration’s policy priorities in the coming years as well, and concluded that development in Africa, lower vaccine costs, and lowering rates of infant mortality are among the chief issues the Administration plans to address in a second term.

Despite the challenges of complex foreign policy situations, the International Affairs Budget has strong bipartisan support, and Congress is expected to maintain support of the budget, even in the face of new fiscal and budgetary challenges in 2013. At this point, it appears that many of the Administration’s current foreign aid policies will continue in one form or another, but their exact composition remains to be seen. Devex reported yesterday that since the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress “is expected to focus on sequestration and budget cuts,” it is unlikely that we will see increases to the foreign aid budget in the remainder of 2012.

We will continue to watch and report on developments in the White House’s aid programs as they unfold.