(The Daily Signal) – The United States spends more than $40 billion a year on foreign assistance. For decades, there has existed in Congress bipartisan support for humanitarian relief and other forms of foreign assistance, but that consensus is now threatened as federal agencies and the nongovernmental aid organizations they work with are increasingly promoting a far-left ideology and agenda in their programs—including climate change, abortion, and radical LGBTQ and gender ideology.
The leftist agenda being pushed in these programs isn’t just threatening congressional support, it is alienating the nations that receive this much-needed aid. For example, the inclusion of abortion and the LGBTQ agenda in America’s flagship health program, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (currently being considered for reauthorization by Congress), has angered leaders across Africa.
On Tuesday, more than 100 parliamentarians and religious and civil society leaders from 15 African countries sent a letter (see below) to the U.S. Senate and House leadership thanking Congress for supporting this lifesaving program, but demanding that Africa’s pro-life, pro-family values be respected.
If the Left continues to push its agenda on these nations, many may reject this program—one that has been credited with saving 25 million lives over the years by providing billions in funding for HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention, and research in more than 50 countries.
This shift in focus in U.S. foreign assistance from humanitarian relief and economic development to the promotion of a politically partisan agenda by so many assistance providers at one time is not accidental. In fact, it is the result of a coordinated effort by a small but hugely influential organization called InterAction, which bills itself as the largest alliance of international humanitarian and development nongovernmental organizations in the United States.
InterAction represents more than 150 charities, including many well-known organizations like the American Red Cross, Oxfam, International Rescue Committee, Islamic Relief, Catholic Relief Services, Care USA, Save the Children, and World Vision. InterAction plays both a coordination role for assistance providers and serves as a lobbying firm, seeking to influence legislators and legislation in Congress to increase funding for its priorities.
Last year, InterAction facilitated the development of the DEI Compact: INGO Commitments Toward Greater Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, which commits member organizations to the promotion of the neo-Marxist diversity, equity, and inclusion ideology through their (taxpayer-funded) programs. InterAction also developed the NGO Climate Compact “to pledge concerted, unified, and urgent action to address climate change.”
Through its organizational priorities and recommendations to the Group of Seven major industrialized nations, InterAction explicitly promotes a universal “right” to abortion and increased funding for “women’s rights and feminist organizations.” In the United States, InterAction advocates for far-left immigration and asylum policies even more extreme than those promoted by the Biden administration.
The homogenous political orientation of InterAction is also apparent when reviewing political contribution records maintained by the Federal Election Commission, which show 100% of all InterAction employee contributions in 2019-2020 going to support left-wing candidates and causes.
InterAction’s funding comes from NGO member dues, foreign governments (Switzerland and Sweden), the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Nations, and a who’s who list of far-left foundations.
The leftward tilt of U.S. foreign assistance driven by InterAction and its partners is damaging our standing in the developing world. While the foreign aid industry constantly talks about “empowering African voices,” the relentless neocolonialist promotion of leftist propaganda in socially conservative countries in Africa (most recently the promotion of the LGBTQ agenda in Uganda) has engendered hatred of the U.S. and pushback in the form of repressive laws and the rejection of U.S. assistance in favor of assistance from other sources (i.e., China).
Another danger associated with promoting this partisan and divisive agenda through foreign aid is the risk of a breakdown in the bipartisan commitment to foreign assistance among Congress and the taxpaying public.
To save the public consensus on foreign assistance, Congress should defund any programs (including the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) that promote partisan causes or political and ideological indoctrination as a condition for the receipt of lifesaving humanitarian aid.
Congress should also ensure that no further taxpayer funding goes to support the clearly partisan InterAction. Congress should ask the IRS to determine if InterAction is still eligible for 501(c)(3) status, given its politically partisan orientation, and should ask the FBI to determine if it, as a lobbying organization that receives funding from foreign governments, has registered as a foreign agent.