USAID Tries Avoiding Congress’ Investigation Into Frivolous Expenditures

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The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is trying to avoid exposing their expenditures to Congress as lawmakers suspect hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are going towards luxury expenses rather than humanitarian aid. According to the Washington Free Beacon, USAID received $15 billion from Congress in 2022, but they are refusing to share exactly where the money went. Lawmakers suspect that more money was spent on hotels, lobbying services, and luxury airfare. 

With the agency’s history of misallocating funds, lawmakers are anxious for an answer. Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas) have been pressing USAID to release the information, and are continuing to do so despite USAID’s initial ignorance of their request and follow up excuses as to why they will not provide the information requested. For more than a year, USAID has been blocking the investigation, and a lack of oversight by the Biden administration has resulted in growing concerns. 


The Free Beacon reports that the investigation “hinges on Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreements (NICRA), a little-known contract carveout that permits U.S. government grantees to spend a substantial portion of taxpayer dollars on things like lobbyists, hotel stays, and even first-class airfare. In theory, NICRAs restrict how much money federal grantees spend on extraneous items, but these costs “have ballooned due to a lack of stewardship and care” under the Biden administration, the lawmakers say.”

NICRA rates are supposed to be renegotiated every year to ensure that taxpayer funds are not being wasted on “frivolous projects.” However, with just seven federal employees reviewing nearly 6,000 transactions to more than 300 organization, oversight has been lacking efficiency. 


Ernst and McCaul are particularly concerned with USAID lying to Congress about the NICRA database it maintains. In February 2023, USAID claimed that they do not have a system that tracks such data, but Ernst showed them that their database does in fact exist. Then, USAID claimed that Congress was asking for legally restricted information and threatened “civil and criminal penalties” if the investigation continues. Ernst responded proving that this investigation does not violate federal law. Still, USAID refused to participate in the investigation, this time claiming they would not disclose information to protect the confidentiality of its business partners. 

Despite USAID’s efforts to avoid participating with Congress in their investigation, Ernst and McCaul are remaining persistent in ensuring that the organization’s expenditures are known along with whether or not they are distributing taxpayer dollars appropriately.

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