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Congresswoman Sara Jacobs Leads Letter to President Biden Urging Swift Implementation of the Global Fragility Act

Washington, D.C., June 29, 2021 | Karla Alvarado (202-821-2240)

Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53) led a letter to the White House calling for the swift implementation of the Global Fragility Act (GFA), bipartisan legislation passed in December 2019 designed to improve interagency coordination, monitoring, and evaluation of the U.S. response to conflict abroad.

The letter was co-led by Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory Meeks (D-NY-05), Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX-10), House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith (D-WA-09), and Congressman Peter Meijer (R-MI-03). In total, the bipartisan letter was signed by nineteen Members of Congress.

Focused on addressing the root causes of violence and instability, the Global Fragility Act seeks to create a long-term interagency effort to prevent, manage, and stabilize conflicts globally. This interagency effort, comprised of the Department of State, USAID, and the Department of Defense, requires the selection of five priority countries and/or regions to devise and implement 10-year strategies. 

The GFA included deadlines for enactment, and while the interagency released a Global Fragility Strategy in December 2020, it has yet to select the five pilot countries. Jacobs’ letter calls on the Biden Administration to move swiftly in the selection process, and to submit a plan for the funds that Congress appropriated in order to begin the implementation of this critical law. 

“As we build a new American foreign policy for the 21st century, our ability to prevent, manage, and stabilize conflicts abroad will be critical. The Global Fragility Act serves as a critical reform to our foreign policy -- but in order for this effort to be successful, we need to ensure the Administration moves swiftly on its implementation,” said Congresswoman Sara Jacobs. “In January, Secretary Blinken expressed his support for the GFA, and my colleagues and I urge President Biden and his Administration to put their words into action and submit a comprehensive implementation plan for the Global Fragility Strategy to Congress. Our ability to rebuild our standing on the global stage demands it.”

Click here to view the letter, or read the full letter text below:

June 29, 2021

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

On December 18, the Department of State released the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability pursuant to Section 504(a) of the Global Fragility Act of 2019 (Public Law 116-94). While this strategy laid an important foundation for implementation of the Global Fragility Act, the strategy did not include key elements of the report required by the law. We write to request your robust leadership in ensuring successful implementation of this critical bipartisan legislation.

Successful enactment of the Global Fragility Act mandated a new approach to stabilize conflict-affected areas and prevent violence and conflict globally. Now with the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating the root causes of fragility and increasing the risk of conflict due to economic contractions, rising resource competition, fraying social cohesion, deteriorating state-society relations, proliferation of misinformation, and violent extremist organizations and other malign actors looking to exploit community grievances, the Global Fragility Act is more urgent than ever. The University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies forecasts the pandemic will likely ignite conflict in 13 more countries through 2022, pushing the total of countries experiencing conflict to 35, more than at any point over the past 30 years.  The Global Fragility Act provides the U.S. government the authorities and resources to respond to these threats in fragile states. In particular, the law requires improved interagency coordination, enhanced research, monitoring, and evaluation of the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance, and strengthened multilateral partnerships to align our stabilization and prevention efforts with those of other donor governments and organizations. 

During Secretary Antony Blinken’s confirmation hearing on January 19, 2021, we were heartened to hear him describe the Global Fragility Act as a “terrific foundation” on which to prioritize addressing fragility and that he had already had some conversations with you on these issues. We are encouraged that we have a ready partner in the White House to lead implementation and ensure interagency coordination and cooperation to advance the long-term strategic planning as required by the law. We agree that development programs and diplomacy should be the first thought, not an afterthought, in our foreign policy.

While we appreciated the State Department’s efforts to develop the Global Fragility Strategy, the Administration must urgently proceed with the selection of at least five priority countries and/or regions in accordance with the process established by the law and the development of related implementation plans. While we understand the selection of priority countries is an important effort and believe it should not be rushed, we would urge leadership to place a priority on the timely selection of priority countries so that the Department of State, USAID, and the Department of Defense can begin implementation of the Global Fragility Strategy. We also urge the appropriate agencies to report to Congress the necessary authorities, staffing, and other requirements needed to implement the law and what limitations, if any, continue to impede progress on implementation, pursuant to Section 504(c)(4) of the Global Fragility Act. We encourage you to use this as an opportunity to ask Congress what the executive branch needs to ensure successful implementation.

In addition, the Global Fragility Strategy is only as effective as the resources put behind it. To date, Congress has appropriated $360 million for the implementation of this legislation, specifically for the Prevention and Stabilization Fund and Complex Crises Fund. We request a status update on the obligation of these funds and a detailed plan on how the remaining funds will be used to implement the Global Fragility Act.

We appreciate your attention to these pressing issues. We hope that your Administration embraces the long-term strategic planning and interagency coordination as required by the Global Fragility Act as a key foreign policy tool and national security imperative. The Global Fragility Act is a bipartisan priority and we look forward to working with your Administration to ensure successful implementation. 

                                                                        Sincerely,




SARA JACOBS
Member of Congress                                   

GREGORY W. MEEKS                                            MICHAEL MCCAUL

Chair                                                                          Ranking Member
House Foreign Affairs Committee                            House Foreign Affairs Committee

ADAM SMITH                                                         PETER MEIJER                                   
Chair                                                                          Member of Congress                   
House Armed Services Committee 

COLIN ALLRED                                                      WILLIAM R. KEATING
Member of Congress                                                 Member of Congress

KAREN BASS                                                          ANDY KIM
Member of Congress                                                 Member of Congress

JOAQUIN CASTRO                                                 JAMES LANGEVIN
Member of Congress                                                 Member of Congress

GERALD E. CONNOLLY                                        ILHAN OMAR
Member of Congress                                                 Member of Congress

JIM COSTA                                                               DEAN PHILLIPS
Member of Congress                                                 Member of Congress

TED DEUTCH                                                          DINA TITUS
Member of Congress                                                 Member of Congress

BRIAN FITZPATRICK                                             JUAN VARGAS
Member of Congress                                                 Member of Congress

CC:

Antony Blinken, Secretary
U.S. Department of State

Samantha Power, Administrator
United States Agency for International Development

Lloyd Austin, Secretary
U.S. Department of Defense

Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor