WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden is expected to announce Wednesday that he will appoint former US Ambassador Samantha Power to head the US Agency for International Development.
Biden is also expected to strengthen the role of power by increasing the position of membership on the National Security Council.
In a prepared statement from NBC News, Biden called Power “a world-renowned voice of conscience and moral clarity.”
“As a USAID administrator,” said Biden, “she will work with our partners to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, empower communities at risk, fight for the worth of everyone, and advance American ideals and interests around the world . “
If it is approved by the Senate, the power still has a lot to transform. Under President Donald Trump, the agency’s budget was cut and career development experts were replaced by political officers with little experience in the field.
In the budget proposed by the government last year, foreign aid and USAID funds were cut by 22 percent. Trump officials defended the cuts, saying they wanted other countries to address global needs.
Trump’s budget has also slashed other State Department accounts for refugees, global health amid a pandemic, and other humanitarian programs, despite foreign aid accounting for less than 1 percent of the federal budget. Republicans and Democrats in Congress eventually turned down the proposal, but development experts said the signal sent to the poorest countries had already left its mark.
The government has also received frequent criticism for filling important positions at USAID with political representatives. On the Friday following the 2020 election, the White House abruptly fired Senate-confirmed Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick, telling her that she had until the end of the day to leave her office.
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Officials didn’t give reporters an explanation for the dismissal, but if she hadn’t left, she would have automatically taken on the agency’s acting administrator through the Trump administration, John Barsa, a policy officer whose term as acting administrator was due to expire at midnight on the same Day after the Federal Law on the Reform of Vacancies.
More recently The Washington Post reported USAID employees were banned when the federal government turned in the first round of coronavirus vaccinations to the State Department last month. Although the vaccine doses went to 1,100 State Department employees, none went to USAID until last week.
Morale continued to plummet after the Capitol attack when the agency’s White House liaison officer, former Trump campaign officer Catharine O’Neill, tweeted criticizing Trump officials for considering resigning.
Axios also received audio from her in the week after the election: “The election is still taking place. The electoral college has not yet voted.”