Majority Clerk, State, Foreign Operations Subcommittee
Senate Appropriations Committee
For Rieser, 59, a big challenge is the attitude of some members of Congress toward the subcommittee’s areas of jurisdiction. “For the most part, people are focused inwardly, on their states and districts,” he said. “Convincing them that what happens in Indonesia, Brazil, or Yemen affects them in significant ways is not easy.… Many people think foreign aid is a form of charity we can’t afford. Yet, among other things, it pays to operate our embassies, prevent disease epidemics, protect the environment, respond to natural disasters, promote human rights, and reduce poverty.” Rieser, who worked for Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and came over to the subcommittee when he became chairman in 1989, says that on any given day he could be working on anything from “saving the habitat of an endangered species in Borneo to legislation to overcome Internet jamming in Iran. It’s the best job I’ve ever had, but you never feel like you’re doing enough,” he said. “The problems of the world are daunting.” Rieser, a New Hampshire native who received his B.A. from Dartmouth College and his law degree from the Antioch School of Law, served as a public defender in Vermont before becoming a legislative aide to Leahy. He was involved in helping to set up a victim’s compensation fund for Iraqi civilians killed in the war, and he has traveled to Colombia to look into whether American aid was being well spent.