Following the release of its “skinny” budget proposal in March, the Administration released its detailed FY18 budget request in May, which included a draconian and disproportionate cut of 32% to the International Affairs Budget – one of the highest-level cuts proposed to a non-defense discretionary account.
Thankfully, the House and Senate rejected the Administration’s deep and disproportionate cuts to the International Affairs Budget, but nonetheless proposed varying levels of cuts to these programs compared to current levels. It is clear that the lack of a budget deal for FY18 to lift the caps on non-defense discretionary spending is straining development and diplomacy programs already stretched by significant global challenges. It will be critical for Congress to pass a bipartisan budget deal similar to those struck in the past to alleviate the pressure on the caps and ensure that the U.S. retains its leadership role in the world.
This week saw a whirlwind of activity on the International Affairs Budget – from consideration of the Senate State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS) Appropriations bill, to an amendment by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) that would have cut USAID funding nearly in half, to SFOPS programs being debated on the House floor for the first time in seven years.
In the end, Congressional support for U.S. engagement in the world came out on top. The Senate SFOPS bill flew through the Appropriations Committee and was approved with unanimous support, Senator Paul’s amendment was overwhelmingly defeated, and bipartisan members of the House spoke out in support of the International Affairs Budget on the floor. A round-up of the week’s news, including movement in the reform and reorganization space, is included in this update.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition President and CEO, Liz Schrayer, released the following statement on today’s vote on Senator Rand Paul’s amendment to offset Harvey disaster assistance by cutting funds for USAID.
The House rejected an amendment offered by Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) that would have cut a scholarship program within the Economic Support Fund (ESF) account and reduced the overall topline in a vote of 105-307.
The Committee approves its FY18 State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS) bill, which provides $51.2 billion in discretionary funding for State-Foreign Operations. This total is split between $30.4 billion in base funding and $20.8 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding.
While this funding level is still below current levels, it is far above the Administration’s request and also above the allocation proposed in the House. During debate, Senators Graham and Leahy also noted that “now is not the time to retreat” and more funding is needed for development and diplomacy programs.
During the full committee markup, Senators offered nine amendments on a variety of issues, including the Mexico City Policy or Global Gag Rule, cholera victims in Haiti, climate change, arm sales to Turkey, and Russia sanctions. A few amendments of note:
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition President and CEO, Liz Schrayer, released the following statement on the confirmation of Ambassador Mark Green to be the next Administrator of USAID.
The Senate confirms Mark Green to be the Administrator of USAID by unanimous consent.
Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Chris Coons (D-DE), along with eight additional original co-sponsors, introduce the Reach Every Mother and Child Act (S. 1730). The bill would establish a strategy to combat preventable newborn, child, and maternal deaths and require a report on the implementation of the strategy. It would also designate a Child and Maternal Survival Coordinator at USAID.
The past several days have seen significant action on the International Affairs Budget, giving a much clearer picture of how development and diplomacy programs are faring in FY18. The Senate Appropriations Committee released its spending allocations, the House Budget Committee marked up the long-awaited FY18 Budget Resolution, and the House Appropriations Committee approved its State-Foreign Operations bill. There is still a long way to go before final spending bills are sent to the President’s desk, but this week saw significant progress when it comes to protecting America’s development and diplomacy programs.