Gayle Smith Sworn-In as USAID Administrator

Posted: 12:58 am EDT
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Deputy USAID Administrator Alfonso E. Lenhardt sworn in Gayle E. Smith as Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development on December 2, 2015.

 

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Senate Confirms Gayle Smith to be USAID Administrator

Posted: 6:41 pm EDT
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On November 30, the U.S. Senate confirmed Gayle Smith as Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development by a vote of 79-7.

The National Security Advisor was quick to issue a statement. The State Department’s number 2 was quick to issue a tweet.

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Senators Grassley and Cotton Now Have 25 @StateDept Nominations Glued Down, and Going Nowhere

Posted: 2:58 am EDT
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In early August, Senator Chuck Grassley  (R-IA) placed a hold on the nomination of David Malcolm Robinson, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service who was nominated to be the next Assistant Secretary of State for the floundering Conflict and Stabilization Operations bureau. He also placed a hold on 20 Foreign Service mid-level nominees, something we don’t often see (see Senate Judiciary Sets Sight on Allegations Over Huma Abedin’s State Dept Employment, Senate Hold OnSenator Grassley Places Hold on 20 FSO Nominations Over Clinton Inquiry).

On September 30, Senator Grassley added a hold on the nomination of Brian Egan, the nominee for Legal Adviser at the State Department. The previously confirmed Legal Adviser was Harold Hongju Koh who left the State Department in early 2013. Mr. Egan has now waited at least 636 days for his senate confirmation.

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On October 5,  Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) added to the confirmation logjam by placing a hold on three ambassadorial nominees, apparently until “the administration shows it is taking steps to punish Secret Service staff involved in leaking unflattering information about a lawmaker.” According to WaPo, Cotton also said he will consider blocking more nominees if the administration refuses to fully investigate and discipline the Secret Service staff.

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You might wonder what do these ambassadorial nominations have to do with the Secret Service? Why, nothing at all.  The Secret Service is under the Department of Homeland Security and the subject of the Cotton hold are nominees for the State Department.  That distinction hardly matters in today’s Washington, D.C.. Remember in July last year when Senator Cruz deployed a blanket hold over the FAA’s prohibition of U.S. airlines flying to or from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport? (See The Fault in Our Skies: Senator to Deploy Blanket Senate Hold Over DOS Nominees Cuz FAA). Right.  The Cotton hold are on three political appointees who have been waiting for senate confirmation between 141 days to 836 days.

There apparently is also a secret hold for the USAID administrator nominee but no one has officially filed a notice of his/her intent to object to the Gayle Smith’s nomination. Devex reported back in July that her nomination has hit a snag. Below is a list of nominees who are subject to a hold.

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Here is an updated list of nominees waiting for a full Senate vote as of October 1, 2015:

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Gayle Smith For USAID Gets a Confirmation Hearing, a Protestor, an Open Letter to End Famine

Posted: 12:13 pm  PDT
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On June 17, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a confirmation hearing on the nomination of Gayle Smith as the next USAID Administrator:

Ms. Gayle Smith Of Ohio,
To Be Administrator Of The United States Agency For International Development
Download Testimony (pdf)

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Then this happened:

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Howard W. French on Gayle Smith’s Appointment as USAID Administrator

Posted: 1:29 am EDT
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We’ve previously posted about the nomination of Gayle Smith as the next USAID administrator on May 5 (see Gayle Smith: From National Security Council to USAID Administrator.  What if every nominee gets a thorough treatment like this?

Excerpt from Mr. French’s piece over at FP:

When President Obama recently nominated Gayle Smith to be the next administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, many members of the country’s small Africa-related foreign policy community howled.
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Smith’s critics, myself included, have objected to the fact that over the years, this former journalist has been a conspicuous backer of authoritarian regimes in places like Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Rwanda. When I first made this point publicly, a former White House staffer offered a disconcertingly ambivalent response: “I’m not sure if there were more compelling candidates out there,” he said.

He may well be right – and the reason for the lack of qualified personnel is a direct consequence of Washington’s long failure to devise a coherent policy toward Africa.
[…]
Gayle Smith should certainly not stand alone to answer for this horrible record, for which the American foreign policy establishment has never given anything like a proper reckoning. One of the reasons for that, though, is the persistence of people like Smith, and her patron, Susan Rice, in positions of high authority. Another, equally pernicious, is the general disinterest that Africa receives from the foreign policy thinkers.

As a region of the world, Africa is virtually alone in being consigned to people with thin expertise and little policy background or clout to shape and guide American diplomacy. Top Africa jobs have often become a kind of sop for African Americans within the bureaucracy. Celebrities like Bono, George Clooney, and Ben Affleck are looked to help set priorities and galvanize public interest. That this should be necessary must be seen as a failure of the policy establishment itself to think more creatively and with more ambition about such a large part of the world.

Read in full via FP, From Quarantine to Appeasement (registration may be required).

Ms. Smith’s nomination requires Senate confirmation. It is currently pending at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Howard W. French journalist, author, and photographer, as well as an associate professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He was previously a Senior Writer for The New York Times, where he spent most of a nearly 23 year career as a foreign correspondent, working in and traveling to over 100 countries on five continents.  From 1979 to 1986, he lived in West Africa, where he worked as a translator, taught English literature at the University of Ivory Coast, and lived as a freelance reporter for The Washington Post and other publications. From 1994 to 1998, he covered West and Central Africa for the NYT, reporting on wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Central Africa, with particular attention to the fall of the longtime dictator of Zaire Mobutu Sese Seko.

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Gayle Smith: From National Security Council to USAID Administrator

Posted: 12:10 am EDT
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On April 30, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Gayle Smith as the next USAID Administrator:

 “Today, I am proud to nominate Gayle E. Smith as our next Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).  I’ve worked closely with Gayle for nearly a decade, and for the past six years Gayle has served as a senior leader on international development, humanitarian crisis response, and democracy issues on my National Security Council staff.  Gayle’s energy and passion have been instrumental in guiding America’s international development policy, responding to a record number of humanitarian crises worldwide, and ensuring that development remains at the forefront of the national security agenda at a time when USAID is more indispensable than ever.  Gayle has my full confidence and I have no doubt that she will prove to be an outstanding leader for the tireless men and women of USAID as they work to improve lives around the world. I urge the Senate to act quickly on this nomination.”

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Click here for a discussion on Africa via CSPAN featuring Ms. Smith, and Howard French, a veteran journalist and author, who reported from Africa for several years.

The WH released the following brief bio:

Gayle E. Smith, Nominee for Administrator, United States Agency for International Development 
Gayle E. Smith is Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Development and Democracy on the National Security Council staff, a position she has held since 2009, with responsibility for global development, democracy, and humanitarian assistance issues.  In her capacity as Senior Director, she has coordinated the first-ever Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, led the Administration’s work on global health, overseen the creation of Presidential initiatives including Feed the Future, Power Africa, the Global Health Security Agenda, and the Open Government Partnership, and helped coordinate U.S. government responses to more than 15 major humanitarian crises around the world.  Prior to joining the Administration, Ms. Smith was a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where she led the Sustainable Security Project and co-founded the ENOUGH Project and the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network.  Ms. Smith also served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council from 1998 to 2001 and as Advisor to the Chief of Staff and Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development from 1994 to 1998.  Ms. Smith previously lived and worked in Africa for almost 20 years, where she was a journalist and worked for non-governmental relief and development organizations.  Ms. Smith received a B.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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