H.R. 601, Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act
On Tuesday, January 24, 2017, the House will consider H.R. 601, the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act, under suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on January 23, 2017, by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
H.R. 601 amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to provide additional congressional direction and scrutiny over U.S. assistance in developing countries for the promotion of quality basic education.
Specifically, the bill updates the legislative authority for U.S. international basic education efforts to ensure that existing resources are effectively prioritized and aligned with U.S. foreign policy and economic interests. The bill requires the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to develop a strategy to work with partner countries and organizations to promote basic education in developing countries, and designates a Senior Coordinator of U.S. International Basic Education Assistance (while simultaneously eliminating an existing, comparable position) within USAID.
The Senior Coordinator will oversee the implementation of the strategy across federal agencies, ensure coordination, and eliminate duplication and waste among ongoing efforts to promote basic education. The Senior Coordinator must report annually, on a country-by-country basis, and describe any progress made.
U.S. foreign assistance “is aid given by the United States to other countries to support global peace, security, and development efforts, and provide humanitarian relief during times of crisis.” The U.S. manages foreign assistance programs “in more than 100 countries around the world through the efforts of over 20 different U.S. Government agencies. These investments further America's foreign policy interests on issues ranging from expanding free markets, combating extremism, ensuring stable democracies, and addressing the root causes of poverty, while simultaneously fostering global good will.”
Currently, USAID operates an education strategy founded on the basis that education is both foundational to human development and critically linked to broad-based economic growth and democratic governance. Through 2015, USAID had three goals including: improving reading skills for 100 million children in primary grades; improving the ability of tertiary and workforce development programs to generate workforce skills relevant to a country’s development goals; and increase equitable access to education in crisis and conflict environments for 15 million learners.
According to the bill’s sponsor, “An education is the fundamental tool with which boys and girls are empowered to increase their economic potential, improve their health outcomes, address cultural biases, participate in their communities, and provide for their families. That’s why prioritizing children’s access to education around the world strengthens our national security and global leadership. Simply put, we cannot build the world we want for ourselves, and for future generations, without education at the center of our efforts.”
In the 114th Congress, the House passed similar legislation, H.R. 4481, by voice vote.
A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate is currently unavailable. However, for similar legislation in the 114th Congress H.R. 4481, the CBO estimated that enacting this legislation would cost less than $500,000 each year and total $1 million over the 2017-2021 period, subject to the availability of appropriated funds. Enacting the legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues, and so pay-as-you-go procedures to not apply. Further, CBO estimated implementing this legislation would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.
For questions or further information please contact Dominique Yantko with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-3021.
 See https://beta.foreignassistance.gov/
 See https://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PDACQ946.pdf at 1.
 See. Rep. Lowey’s Press Release, “Representatives Lowey and Reichert Introduce Education For All Act” February 5, 2016.