I am late to congratulate Sen. Mike Enzi on his retirement. Praise for his service usually focuses on rather narrow, parochial concerns, almost as if he were serving on a small town council for his local neighborhood, rather than sitting in the United States Senate!

A huge piece of his legacy – one he highlighted himself in announcing his retirement – has been largely overlooked and is the piece that may matter the most: his leadership from the very earliest years in the fight against HIV/AIDS and his continued support for our nation’s leadership in foreign development.

Sen. Enzi has grasped from the beginning that simply providing “pork” for folks back home does not position us at the front of the world. He has always been a proponent of effective foreign aid – assistance that strengthens nations to stand on their own; to develop stable, effective governments with whom we can partner; and who will not simply remain dependent on wealthier countries.

Besides his work on HIV/AIDS, Sen. Enzi recently signed as an original cosponsor of the Reach Every Mother and Child Act (REACH, S. 1766). REACH codifies an existing reorganization of USAID, ensuring that our efforts in the area of maternal and child health are as effective as they can be. Healthy mothers have healthier babies who grow into healthier children and more productive adults.

Sen. Enzi had signed as an original cosponsor on the bill last session, but it stalled in a flurry of other concerns. This perseverance is typical of his quiet determination on such unheralded work.

Thank you, Sen. Enzi, for understanding that foreign aid is more than a handout, and that keeping America first in the world means so much more than a narrow, isolationist catch-phrase when we say, “America first.”

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