WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) introduced comprehensive legislation Thursday to make fighting international corruption an American national security priority, encourage greater transparency in U.S. foreign and security assistance, and publicize anti-corruption efforts and results worldwide.
Joining Senators Cardin and Perdue as original cosponsors of the Combating Global Corruption Act of 2017 are U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt).
“Corruption is a fundamental obstacle to peace, prosperity, and human rights all around the world. Corruption fuels fragile states, political instability, violent extremism, entrenched criminal networks, and extreme poverty,” said Senator Cardin, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Combatting corruption should be elevated and prioritized across American foreign policy efforts. That’s what this legislation seeks to do and I thank my colleagues for their bipartisan support.”
“Corruption fuels grievances in unstable nations and undermines our efforts to combat extremism and help those in need,” said Senator Perdue, a member of the Armed Services Committee. “To get results, we need to hold those carrying out these programs accountable and protect funds from corrupt practices. A corruption assessment would provide us with more information to ensure our tax dollars are going towards helping people in need and not falling into the wrong hands.”
Corruption erodes trust and confidence in democratic institutions, the rule of law, and human rights protections. It also damages the United States’ global competitiveness and creates barriers to economic growth in international markets. As headlines remind us every day, corruption endangers national and international security by fostering the conditions for violent extremism, hampering the ability of the United States to combat terrorism, and by weakening institutions associated with governance and accountability.
Corruption can also have a severe, negative impact on U.S. foreign assistance. Effective corruption risk assessment and analysis before, during, and after the provision of foreign and security assistance is key to reducing and eliminating corruption and holding U.S. foreign assistance and security assistance programs accountable to U.S. taxpayers.
In order to combat corruption and increase accountability for U.S. foreign assistance, Senators Cardin, Perdue, Feinstein, Rubio, Blumenthal, Collins, Merkley, Booker, and Leahy introduced the Combating Global Corruption Act of 2017. This legislation requires the State Department to author and publicly distribute a report, similar to its annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which summarizes the extent of corruption in countries worldwide and assigns tiered classifications based on certain minimum standards of governmental efforts to combat corruption.
The tiers are as follows:
- Tier One: If the government complies with the minimum standards;
- Tier Two: If the government is making efforts but falls short of the minimum standards;
- Tier Three: If the government is making de minimis or no efforts to comply with the minimum standards.
The legislation also specifies transparency and accountability measures for the Department of State, Department of Defense, and USAID to implement in order to increase transparency and accountability for U.S. foreign assistance to Tier 3 countries. The measures include: conducting corruption risk assessments, creating corruption mitigation strategies, use of anti-corruption clauses in assistance contracts, inclusion of claw-back provisions in assistance contracts, establishing investigative mechanisms for allegations of misappropriated assistance, and implementation of democracy and governance programs that include anti-corruption components.