Trends in USAID Humanitarian Aid and Partisanship

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is a governmental institution that funds assistance projects in areas that are susceptible to manmade and natural disasters. However, the assistance projects, rather than being based on need alone, are products of a polarized partisan climate. The success of the Marshall Plan or European Recovery Program served as the United States’ introduction to the success of international aid and led to the creation of USAID. Each new presidential administration appoints a new administrator of USAID, further reflecting the partisan divide. The last three administrations have been Republican (2001-2008, 2017-date) and one Democratic (2009-2016). The trends and patterns of spending during the 2001 to 2019 FY show a fluctuating system with a general rise in the amount of aid given. Major trends were identified in FY 2003 (Bush Administration), 2015 (Obama Administration), and 2017 (Trump Administration) due to famine and war-torn areas. With the increase of funding out of the USAID and growing skepticism by partisan groups, it is dire to ensure that projects are going to foster sustainable development and not just fix the "right now" problem while ignoring the issue that will arise if sustainable practices aren’t used. Without resilient measures, sustainable frameworks are being undermined. The need for cohesion amongst both sustainable and resilient projects must be looked into. While natural disasters increase the amount of spending on foreign aid no matter partisan ties, the common notion is that the Republican party would spend less on humanitarian assistance and international development measures while the Democratic party would spend more. This thesis explores those trends, the historical components of USAID and offers policy recommendations to improve and build upon initiatives that promote international development.