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Monday, January 25, 2021

Biden Nominating Samantha Power to Head USAID

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to announce his plans Wednesday to nominate former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power as head of the U.S. Agency for International Development and to elevate the position to membership on the National Security Council. 

“As USAID Administrator she will work with our partners to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, lift up vulnerable communities, fight for the value of every human being, and advance American ideals and interests around the globe,” Biden said in a prepared statement obtained by NBC News.

He also called Power a “world-renowned voice of conscience and moral clarity.”

Power will face the task of restoring an office that has been targeted through budget and staff cuts. 

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Under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget last year, federal funds to USAID and foreign aid were cut by 22%. In addition, career development experts were replaced by political appointees. 

Officials defended the cuts by saying the administration was looking to other countries to help with global needs. The proposal was rejected by Democrats and Republicans in Congress, but development experts said the move sent a signal to the world’s poorest countries. 

Meanwhile, on the Friday after this year’s election, the White House fired USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick, who the Senate had confirmed, giving her until the end of the day to clear out her office. 

NBC reports that had she stayed, she would have automatically have taken over the slot held by political appointee John Barsa, whose post as acting administrator was to have ended at midnight on the same day through the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. The move was widely seen as a play to keep Barsa in the slot. 

USAID employees were also left out of the initial round of coronavirus vaccinations to the State Department in December, reports The Washington Post. Vaccine doses had gone out to 1,100 State Department employees at that time, but USAID personnel did not get their shots until last week, despite the agency’s international role.  

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