November 15, 2017
Donald Trump expected to fight plenty of liberals over his agenda, but his own administration? That’s a challenge most people never saw coming. But even now, deep into the president’s first year, Barack Obama’s footprint on offices like USAID still loom large.
That’s a serious problem -- not just for the administration, but for millions of men and women around the world. Having just returned from the Middle East, I understand how urgent the needs of Christians and other religious minorities are. Our delegation talked with church leaders, toured a Syrian refugee camp, and met extensively with government officials in Jordan and Egypt – all of whom are looking to the U.S. for help. Help that Vice President Mike Pence had assured the world was coming.
After years of letting the U.N. decide how U.S. dollars were spent on crises such as this, the vice president announced last month that America was taking back control of certain aid programs (which were administered too slowly or ineffectively to do any good). “We will no longer rely on the United Nations alone to assist persecuted Christians and minorities in the wake of genocide and the atrocities of terrorist groups,” Pence explained. “The United States will work hand-in-hand from this day forward with faith-based groups and private organizations to help those who are persecuted for their faith. This is the moment, now is the time, and America will support these people in their hour of need.”
Unfortunately for Mike Pence and the entire persecuted church, USAID hasn’t exactly been eager to do the administration’s bidding -- a problem highlighted this week by Fox News’s Laura Ingraham. Accusing it of “dragging its feet,” Ingraham said USAID was a “deeply entrenched government bureaucracy” which, like other agencies, is struggling under the influence of Obama holdovers. “Why are parts of the government defying the president’s orders?” she asked Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas). The Texas representative called it a “deep state” at work and said it was time for Congress to “step up to the plate” and deal with it.
Our sources inside USAID agree with the congressman’s assessment and say a complete retooling of the office is needed. Another means of helping those who are being persecuted for their faith is for the U.S. Senate to finally confirm Governor Sam Brownback as the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. For weeks, he’s been waiting for an up-or-down vote, while our brothers and sisters abroad suffer. It’s time to end the obstruction -- both at USAID and the U.S. Senate -- and get to work accomplishing the president’s goal of a freer, safer world for everyone.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.