May 2, 2019

Young, Cardin Legislation Would Make Fighting Global Corruption a National Security Priority

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), both members of the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have introduced bipartisan legislation (S. 1309) that would raise the profile of efforts to fight international corruption, making it an American national security priority, encouraging greater transparency in U.S. foreign and security assistance, and publicizing anti-corruption efforts and results worldwide.

“Global corruption is often at the root of conflict, humanitarian suffering, and political crises. In places like Afghanistan, Yemen, and Venezuela, corruption has undermined the rule of law and stood in the way of humanitarian aid reaching those in need. I am proud of this bipartisan effort to combat corruption around the world by standing with the world’s most vulnerable and holding those in power responsible for their actions,” said Senator Young. 

“Corruption is a fundamental obstacle to peace, prosperity, and human rights all around the world.  Where there are high levels of corruption we find fragile states, authoritarian states, or states suffering from internal or external conflict – in places such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Nigeria, and Sudan,” said Senator Cardin.  “Combatting corruption should be elevated and prioritized across American foreign policy efforts. I thank my colleagues for their bipartisan support.”

Joining Senators Cardin and Young as original cosponsors of the Combating Global Corruption Act of 2019 are U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

Global corruption erodes trust and confidence in democratic institutions, the rule of law, and human rights protections. It also damages the United States’ competitiveness and creates barriers to economic growth in international markets. Around the world, corruption endangers national and international security by fostering the conditions for violent extremism, hampering the ability of the United States to combat terrorism, entrenching high poverty, and by weakening institutions associated with governance and accountability.

Global corruption can also have a severe, negative impact on the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance.  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, theCombating Global Corruption Act of 2019 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.

S. 1309 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.