The House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations held a hearing entitled “Accountable Soft Power in the National Interest,” featuring USAID Administrator Mark Green.
The Senate passed its FY18 Budget Resolution on a largely party-line vote of 51-49, following a lengthy vote-a-rama on amendments. The resolution sets out $516 billion for non-defense discretionary spending, equal to the FY18 Budget Control Act (BCA) cap. The resolution includes $39.5 billion in base funding for the International Affairs Budget, but does not specify the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding breakdown between defense and international affairs. Like the House’s FY18 Budget Resolution, the Senate’s budget resolution is considered primarily to be a vehicle for tax reform.
Reps. Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduce the Reach Every Mother and Child Act (H.R. 4022). The bill would establish a strategy to combat leading causes of 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.
This week saw a flurry of action on the budget in Congress with the House passing its FY18 Budget Resolution and the Senate Budget Committee marking up its own version. While each budget resolution lays out broad spending priorities, the FY18 budget resolutions are considered primarily to be vehicles for tax reform. Their sub-allocations, including for the International Affairs Budget, are less salient now that House and Senate Appropriators have completed their FY18 spending bills.
Bipartisan Members of Congress are continuing to press the Administration for details on the State Department’s “redesign” process following the Department’s submission of recommendations to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in mid-September, and Congress has taken action on a number of bills in the past several weeks.
Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Chris Coons (D-DE), along with six additional original co-sponsors, introduce the Multilateral Aid Review Act (S. 1928). The bill would authorize a methodologically-based assessment to evaluate U.S. contributions to multilateral institutions.
The House passed its FY18 Budget Resolution on a party-line vote of 219-206, rejecting several alternative budgets during debate on the floor. The resolution sets out $511 billion for non-defense discretionary spending – $5 billion below the Senate Budget Committee’s resolution and the FY18 BCA cap. It provides $48.3 billion for the International Affairs Budget, including $36.3 billion in base and $12 billion in OCO funding.
The alternative budgets were offered by:
Over a two day mark-up ending on Oct. 5, the Senate Budget Committee approved its FY18 Budget Resolution, which sets out $516 billion for non-defense discretionary spending – equal to the FY18 Budget Control Act (BCA) cap. The resolution includes $39.5 billion in base funding for the International Affairs Budget, but does not specify the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding breakdown between defense and international affairs. Rather it provides an overall total of $77 billion for OCO – $27 billion below current levels and equal to the Administration’s FY18 request. With about one-third of the total International Affairs Budget currently funded through OCO, this steep cut to the total OCO funding level could result in a much lower total allocation for the International Affairs Budget.
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.