Foreign Assistance Act

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Foreign Assistance Act (1961)
Great Seal of the United States
Other short titles
  • Act for International Development of 1961
  • Foreign Aid Authorization Act of 1961
Long titleAn Act to promote the foreign policy, security, and general welfare of the United States by assisting peoples of the world in their efforts toward economic and social development and internal and external security, and for other purposes.
NicknamesForeign Assistance Act of 1961
Enacted bythe 87th United States Congress
EffectiveSeptember 4, 1961
Public law87-195
Statutes at Large75 Stat. 424-2
Titles amended22 U.S.C.: Foreign Relations and Intercourse
U.S.C. sections created22 U.S.C. ch. 32 § 2151
Legislative history
Major amendments
Foreign Assistance Act of 1974

The Foreign Assistance Act (Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 87–195, 75 Stat. 424-2, enacted September 4, 1961, 22 U.S.C. § 2151 et seq.) is a United States law governing foreign aid policy.[1] It outlined the political and ideological principles of U.S. foreign aid, significantly overhauled and reorganized the structure of U.S. foreign assistance programs, legally distinguished military from nonmilitary aid, and created a new agency, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to administer nonmilitary economic assistance programs. Following its enactment by Congress on September 4, 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed the Act into law on November 3, 1961, issuing Executive Order 10973 detailing the reorganization.[2]


USAID unified already existing U.S. aid efforts, combining the economic and technical assistance operations of the International Cooperation Administration, the loan activities of the Development Loan Fund, the local currency functions of the Export-Import Bank, and the agricultural surplus distribution activities of the Food for Peace program of the Department of Agriculture.

The Act provides that no assistance is to be provided to a government which "engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, including torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges, causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of those persons, or other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, and the security of person, unless such assistance will directly benefit the needy people in such country."[3]

The Act also provides that no assistance is to be provided to any Communist country. However, the President may waive this prohibition if he determines that such assistance is vital to the national security of the United States, that the country is not controlled by the international Communist conspiracy, and that the assistance will promote the country's independence from international Communism. The President may also remove a country from the application of this provision for a certain time which the President determines. In order to remove a country from the application of this provision, the President must determine and report to Congress that such action is important to the national security of the United States.

The Act was amended in 2004 specific to the treatment of orphans and other vulnerable children. This amendment allows the president to provide aid to the peoples of other countries to look after children in cases of HIV/AIDS and to set up schools and other programs for the advancement of child treatment.[4][5]

Under the authority of this Act on March 16, 2022, President Biden authorized $800 million in new security assistance to Ukraine.[6][7]

Excess Defense Articles[edit]

Section § 2403 of Title 22 U.S. Code defines "Excess Defense Articles" (EDA).[8] The EDA Program is administered by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). Excess defense articles are DoD and U.S. Coast Guard-owned articles no longer needed and declared excess by the U.S. Armed Forces. This excess equipment may be offered at reduced or no cost to eligible foreign recipients on an “as is, where is” basis in support of U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives.

Section 516(b)(1)(e) of the Foreign Assistance Act states that EDA transfers shall not adversely impact the U.S. national technology and industrial base, nor reduce the opportunities of U.S. industry to sell new or used equipment to the proposed recipient. In accordance with Executive Order 12163, as amended, the Director of DSCA makes the determination on the impact to industry.[9]

Authority to transfer excess defense articles is the subject of Title 22 §2321j.[10]

The EDA program has a useful database tool.[11] It is run through the Department of State's Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers.[12] In 1993 the governments of Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, Morocco, and Oman and five North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries benefited from this program.[13]

Amendments to 1961 Act[edit]

Chronological timeline of amendments and revisions to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.

Date of Enactment Public Law Number U.S. Statute Citation U.S. Legislative Bill U.S. Presidential Administration
August 1, 1962 Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 87–565 76 Stat. 255 S. 2996 John F. Kennedy
December 16, 1963 Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 88–205 77 Stat. 379 H.R. 7885 Lyndon B. Johnson
October 7, 1964 Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 88–633 78 Stat. 1009 H.R. 11380 Lyndon B. Johnson
September 6, 1965 Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 89–171 79 Stat. 653 H.R. 7750 Lyndon B. Johnson
March 18, 1966 Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 89–371 80 Stat. 74 H.R. 12169 Lyndon B. Johnson
September 19, 1966 Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 89–583 80 Stat. 795-3 H.R. 15750 Lyndon B. Johnson
November 14, 1967 Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 90–137 81 Stat. 445 S. 1872 Lyndon B. Johnson
October 8, 1968 Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 90–554 82 Stat. 960 H.R. 15263 Lyndon B. Johnson
January 5, 1971 Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 91–652 84 Stat. 1942 H.R. 19911 Richard M. Nixon
December 30, 1974 Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 93–559 88 Stat. 1795 S. 3394 Gerald R. Ford
June 30, 1976 Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 94–329 90 Stat. 729 H.R. 13680 Gerald R. Ford
September 8, 2017 Pub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 115–56 (text) (PDF) 131 Stat. 1129 H.R. 601 Donald Trump

See also[edit]


  1. ^ FOREIGN ASSISTANCE ACT OF 1961, United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
  2. ^ Executive Order 10973, 3 November 1961, Administration of Foreign Assistance and Related Functions
  3. ^ "22 U.S. Code § 2304 - Human rights and security assistance". Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  4. ^ H.R. 1298 at
  5. ^ "United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003 ~ P.L. 108-25" (PDF). 117 Stat. 711 ~ House Bill 1298. U.S. Government Printing Office. May 27, 2003.
  6. ^ "Biden announces new security assistance for Ukraine but stops short of Zelenskyy's full request". 16 March 2022. Retrieved 2022-03-16.
  7. ^ "Fact Sheet on U.S. Security Assistance for Ukraine". The White House. 2022-03-16. Retrieved 2022-03-16.
  8. ^ "22 U.S. Code § 2403 - Definitions".
  9. ^ "Excess Defense Articles Program".
  10. ^ "Result".
  11. ^ "Excess Defense Articles (EDA) | Defense Security Cooperation Agency".
  12. ^ "Key Topics – Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers".
  13. ^ "Security Assistance: Excess Defense Articles for Foreign Countries | U.S. GAO".

External links[edit]