On Monday, the first working day following the inauguration of President Trump, a grant solicitation was posted on Grants.gov offering $16.5 million for “Ending AIDS in West Africa.”
The group offering the money was the United States Agency for International Development, also known as USAID.
The federal agency was created by John F. Kennedy in 1961 and has been funded by Congress under the Foreign Assistance Act since that time.
USAID’s budget is an astounding $27.2 billion. That’s $223 for every taxpayer in the United States.
The group operates in addition to the Peace Corps, which by comparison has a paltry annual budget of only $410 million.
Just 25 days into 2017, USAID has released grant opportunities that will dole out up to $506.5 million in taxpayer funds for overseas projects.
That’s more than the annual budget of the Peace Corps.
The projects included in that $506 million are “strengthening family planning in Uganda,” “supporting livelihoods in Syria,” “polio eradication,” and $300 million for an ambiguous grant titled “Breakthrough-ACTION” to “increase the practice of priority health behaviors, and enabling social norms, including gender norms . . . “
Given the federal government under President Obama took an abnormal approach to “gender norms” it may be unwise to spend $300 million to advance gender norms in foreign countries.
USAID operates largely outside of the diplomatic and trade efforts of the United States by design.
In 1995, Senator Jesse Helms attempted to abolish the organization but failed.
In 2006, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice attempted reign in the organization and align their grants with U.S. policy interests, but that was overturned years later by President Obama and Secretary Clinton.
The organization now sits largely unchecked with an incredible amount of taxpayer funds at its disposal for any whim of a project around the world.