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The U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 29 voted 334-87 to approve a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) that would increase the number of countries eligible for development partnerships with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a bilateral, independent United States foreign aid agency established by Congress in 2004.

“The MCC is critical to our global fight against poverty, especially as families around the world are hurting from rising inflation, food supply chain disruptions and increased conflict,” Rep. Kim said. “The MCC also plays an important role in giving countries an alternative to the People’s Republic of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. 

“This bipartisan bill will give the MCC flexibility to continue fostering transparent U.S. financing options in the countries that need it most,” she said. 

The House approved the Millennium Challenge Corporation Eligibility Expansion Act, H.R. 8463, which Rep. Kim cosponsored in July with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) to modify the requirements under the Millennium Challenge Act of 2003 for candidate countries, according to the text of the bill.

“I’m grateful to Rep. Castro for working with me on this effort and my House colleagues for supporting our mission to advance responsible, long-term solutions to global poverty and economic development,” said Rep. Kim.

Currently, in order to be a candidate to apply for MCC assistance, a country must hold specific classifications by the World Bank, be eligible to receive U.S. assistance, and then be evaluated by the MCC, according to a summary provided by the lawmakers.

Due to growth in overall global incomes, the number of countries in the initial candidate pool has shrunk from 113 in fiscal year 2006 to 81 countries in FY 2022, of which only 66 are eligible to receive U.S. foreign assistance. 

If enacted, H.R. 8463 would define the candidate pool as the world’s 125 poorest countries, before any policy-based exclusions are made and incomes would continue to be measured on a Gross National Income per capita basis as determined by the World Bank. However, the shift from an absolute to a relative threshold would allow more countries to compete for MCC assistance and the pool would remain at a consistent size as global incomes change, the summary says.

“As the MCC looks ahead to the challenges and opportunities of the future, this bill will ensure it has the flexibility to partner with countries where it can do the greatest good,” said Rep. Castro. “I thank my colleagues, especially Rep. Young Kim, for working to build support for our bill on both sides of the aisle, and I urge our Senate colleagues to move swiftly to send this bill to President Biden’s desk.”

The Ripon Advance

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