Kolbe to Senate Subcommittee: Investing in Democracy Benefits U.S. Taxpayers

Washington, D.C.—International Republican Institute (IRI) Vice Chairman and former Congressman James Kolbe argued that the United States should “invest in a governance-centered approach” to international development in testimony delivered to a Senate Appropriations subcommittee today.

Appearing at a session chaired by Senator Lindsey Graham, Kolbe shared his view that supporting the construction of democratic institutions that encourage citizen-centered governments is the best way to “yield greater returns on taxpayer investment.”

As a former appropriator in the U.S. House of Representatives, Kolbe empathized with lawmakers facing the challenge of confronting threats abroad while exercising fiscal prudence at home. However, he argued that supporting democracy assistance is “the embodiment of the adage that ‘if you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day; but if you teach a man to fish, he will never go hungry.’”

Recounting the diverse ways in which IRI’s work strengthens institutions in countries ranging from Tunisia to Mongolia, Kolbe conveyed the extensive impact of these relatively modest investments. “By walking alongside our local partners in their journey to democracy, we’re helping to create a more stable and prosperous world and advancing core American interests,” Kolbe remarked.

Kolbe concluded his testimony by encouraging lawmakers to incorporate “democracy and governance as core components of foreign aid” as part of an effort to reassert American leadership worldwide. “It is my hope that this marriage of principle and pragmatism will find a resurgence in our foreign policy going forward, and that this will be reflected in our approach to international development.”   

Up ArrowTop