U.S. Foreign Aid

April 23, 2021 • Volume 31, Issue 15
Will funding increase and priorities change under Biden?
By Zarrín Caldwell


President Biden's inauguration speech promised to “repair our alliances and engage with the world once again.” As he pursues these goals, international development aid will be a key tool. Biden's promise, however, comes in the context of the shock waves created by the COVID-19 pandemic and an American public with divergent views about the country's role in the world. Support for international development assistance has typically been bipartisan and advocates are optimistic about its future, but there are escalating needs that could compete with foreign aid for attention and dollars. In addition, development progress achieved prior to the pandemic may be set back decades by the effects of COVID-19. And critics complain about corruption and self-interest in aid programs. As Biden's team settles into the many agencies administering foreign assistance, the key questions to be answered are whether there will be a strategic alignment of aid priorities — and whether aid will get to those needing it most.

Photo of President Biden at the State Department on February 4, 2021. (AFP/Getty Images/Saul Loeb)
Outlining his foreign policy themes at the State Department on Feb. 4, President Biden vowed to restore U.S. “credibility and moral authority,” including through international development aid. (AFP/Getty Images/Saul Loeb)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Foreign Aid
Feb. 18, 2022  Fragile States
Apr. 23, 2021  U.S. Foreign Aid
Mar. 29, 2019  U.S. Foreign Policy in Transition
Apr. 14, 2017  Rethinking Foreign Aid
May 16, 2014  U.S. Global Engagement
Oct. 02, 2012  Rebuilding Haiti
Mar. 23, 2012  U.S.-Europe Relations
Jun. 17, 2011  Foreign Aid and National Security
Apr. 26, 2002  Foreign Aid After Sept. 11
Sep. 27, 1996  Reassessing Foreign Aid
Sep. 23, 1988  Foreign Aid: a Declining Commitment
Dec. 01, 1965  Development Aid for Poor Nations
Dec. 19, 1962  Foreign Aid Overhaul
Jun. 19, 1957  Population Growth and Foreign Aid
Dec. 12, 1956  Extension of Foreign Aid
Jan. 26, 1955  Aid to Asia
Feb. 04, 1953  Trade Policy and Foreign Aid
May 03, 1951  Future of Foreign Aid
Feb. 09, 1949  American Aid to Greece
Oct. 17, 1947  Conditions for American Aid
Jun. 11, 1947  Financial Aid to Foreign Countries
Aug. 06, 1940  American Relief of Famine in Europe
Feb. 16, 1940  Loans and Credits to Foreign Countries
Cold War
Conflicts in Africa
Conflicts in Asia
Congress Actions
General International Relations
General Social Trends
Global Issues
Humanitarian Assistance
Infectious Diseases
International Economic Development
International Law and Agreements
Latin American Conflicts
Party Politics
Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Regional Planning and Urbanization
Regional Political Affairs: Africa
Regional Political Affairs: East Asia and the Pacific
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean
Regional Political Affairs: Middle East and South Asia
United Nations