Aid for Haiti Moving Through Senate In Fits and Starts

By Julianne Hing May 24, 2010

Four months after the earthquake in Haiti, Congress is still debating best practices for how to help the country recover. Tomorrow, the Senate foreign relations panel will consider a bill by Senators John Kerry and Bob Corker that calls $3.5 billion in aid to be given over the next five years to Haiti. Back in March, President Obama asked for $2.8 billion to be sent to Haiti for emergency relief and reconstruction work, but that bill has not reached the floor either the House or Senate. The Kerry-Corker bill, called the Haiti Empowerment, Assistance and Rebuilding ACT, would be a 25 percent increase over what had already been promised. The bill demands that money be spent on projects which promote a democratic governing in security and economic development. The bill would prioritize investments in projects focused on women and children and calls on USAID to lead the rebuilding and development strategy for Haiti. The act also calls for the creation of a new job for a Senior Haiti Policy Coordinator to coordinate and advise policy with Haiti. Yet, during a Senate hearing last week, Corker himself seemed unconvinced about whether or not the money would be utilized best in the Haitian government’s hands.