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House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.). Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs committee sent a letter on Wednesday to the acting administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) — 15 hours before he is set to testify before the committee — demanding he fire Merritt Corrigan, an aide with a history of making homophobic comments.

Why it matters: The letter escalates pressure on acting administrator John Barsa to address criticism — including from several of his employees — that the agency's recent hires have created a hostile work environment.

  • The letter also suggests that Democratic committee members will use Thursday's routine budget hearing to press Barsa on the controversy over USAID's internal affairs.
  • USAID did not respond to a request for comment.

Context: The White House initially rejected hiring Corrigan because of her history of inflammatory statements. But John McEntee, a 30-year-old former body man who now runs the administration's hiring process, installed her at USAID anyway, sparking intense internal backlash.

Details: The letter says Corrigan's "record of public remarks, including disparaging LGBTQ people and those who express support for them, women in positions of leadership, and immigrants, is appalling, and has no place in a federal agency."

  • The letter cites several of Corrigan's most inflammatory comments, adding that they are "left wondering how Ms. Corrigan is able to effectively serve an agency whose principles are so clearly antithetical to her own."
  • It ends by stating: "For the sake of USAID’s employees, the beneficiaries it supports around the world, and the core values of the agency, we urge you to immediately condemn this speech, and demand Ms. Corrigan’s resignation."

Read a copy of the letter.

Go deeper

Colin Powell dies from COVID complications at 84

Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Capital Concerts

Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, died of complications from COVID-19, his family announced Monday. He was 84.

Driving the news: The Powell family said in a statement that he was fully vaccinated. "We want to thank the medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center for their caring treatment."

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP senator calls for senility test for aging leaders

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a physician, told me during an "Axios on HBO" interview that he favors cognition tests for aging leaders of all three branches of government.

Why it matters: Wisdom comes with age. But science also shows that we lose something. And much of the world is now run by old people — including President Biden, 78 ... Speaker Pelosi, 81 ...  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, 70 ... and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 79.

Ina Fried, author of Login
3 hours ago - Technology

Intel CEO blames predecessors for manufacturing woes

Axios on HBO

When it comes to Intel's recent manufacturing problems, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger places the blame squarely on his predecessors — many of whom he notes were not engineers deeply steeped in chip technology, as he is.

Why it matters: Gelsinger has announced a broad plan to reinvigorate Intel by doubling down on manufacturing. However, the strategy depends on the venerable semiconductor giant recovering from recent stumbles.