2017 brought a steady stream of challenges and changes to U.S. foreign policy and development assistance – from a new Administration taking the reins, to a budget proposal that sent shockwaves through Washington, to a steady drumbeat of support for American global leadership.
If you had a tough time keeping up with the dizzying pace of the news cycle, you weren’t alone – but we’re here to help. We’ve gathered 12 of the top stories from the past year – one from each month – that you won’t want to miss. Here’s the USGLC’s look back at 2017:
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK. The new Administration began staffing up key positions and the USGLC launched our Global Plum Book on the top 100 foreign policy posts across the government.
TOP BRASS. When news of the Administration’s budget proposal first broke – our nation’s military leaders were among the first to speak out against the wildly disproportionate cuts to the State Department and USAID. In a now widely-circulated letter to Congress, they urged strong funding for their civilian counterparts, maintaining that “now is not the time to retreat.” In case you missed their message when it was headline news, catch up with a short video recap here.
EVANGELICALS, CATHOLICS SPEAK OUT. More than 100 top Christian leaders – including two 2017 inauguration ceremony speakers – captured the attention of lawmakers in a letter to Capitol Hill: “It is our moral responsibility to urge you to support and protect the International Affairs Budget” noting “we cannot turn our back on those in desperate need.” Adding to the chorus of voices, the heads of World Vision and Catholic Relief Services penned The Christian, Conservative Case for Foreign Aid in the Washington Post with significant coverage of the letter in conservative press.
JOINING THE CHORUS. With a strong bipartisan voice, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Todd Young (R-IN) led a formidable letter signed by 43 Senators and sent to their fellow colleagues on key committees, urging them to provide “robust funding” for the International Affairs Budget and calling the proposed cuts “shortsighted, counterproductive, and even dangerous.”
STATE DEPT BUDGET = JOBS. 225 business leaders from across the U.S. penned a letter to former business icon Secretary Rex Tillerson urging his support of a strong budget for the State Department and USAID. Leaders from Coca-Cola, Land O’Lakes, General Electric, Cargill, UPS, and Walmart – alongside hundreds more – all wrote that “strategic investments in development and diplomacy make America safer and more prosperous.” FOX News covered the story during their 6pm show, along with headlines in the Wall Street Journal and CNN Money.
STORMING THE HILL. After months of advocating around the country for the State Department and USAID budgets, more than 500 business, military, government, non-profit, and faith leaders from across the country descended on Washington for the USGLC’s 2017 State Leaders Summit – and weighed in on the budget cuts with their lawmakers on Capitol Hill. We also heard from a powerful line-up of voices talking about America’s role in the world, with appearances from Sean Spicer, to Senator Tim Kaine, to General Ray Odierno and many more. Check out the highlights here.
FIGHTING FAMINE. As USGLC President and CEO Liz Schrayer wrote in TIME, the fight against famine needs more voices. Thankfully, leaders and lawmakers have been stepping up to save the millions of lives threatened by famine across four countries: USGLC board member David Milliband of IRC wrote in TIME, “’America First’ should not mean ‘poorest last’”; fellow board member Michael Gerson reported from Kenya in the Washington Post; and David Beasley, the World Food Program chief, told policymakers that it’s in “America’s national interest and the world’s national security interest for peace and prosperity to help hungry people.”
STORIES FROM THE ROAD. As Members of Congress headed home for the August congressional recess, we at the USGLC hit the road – delivering a simple, yet powerful message to the American people: Leading Globally, Matters Locally. From the Southwest, to the Southeast, to the Midwest, hundreds of USGLC state leaders – from the business, veteran, non-profit, and faith communities – came together for three wildly successful events with a bipartisan group of U.S. senators in support of continued investment in American diplomacy and development programs.
BUDGET MATTERS. With unanimous approval, the Senate Appropriations Committee signed off on the budget for the international affairs programs – formally rejecting the Administration’s proposed 32% cut for next year. The NY Times Editorial Board praised the Republican-led committee’s denunciation of the Administration’s budget, which called it “an apparent doctrine of retreat” from the world and stated “fire-power cannot replace diplomacy and development.” Read the details of both the Senate and House bills here.
AFRICA ALERT. A visit by U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, to Africa was the highest profile visit to the continent by the administration to date, shining a spotlight on the horrific humanitarian crises as well as the complexity of ongoing terrorism. Speaking to reporters about the volume of displaced children: “Those kids will be 18 one day… uneducated with no social skills… That’s dangerous for the United States, and that’s dangerous for the world.”
TRUMP IN ASIA. Billed the “Indo-Pacific” mission, national security topped the priority list for President Trump’s whirlwind 12-day, 5-country tour of Asia. His stop in South Korea came just days after Secretary Mattis visited the demilitarized zone, where the Defense Secretary emphasized the need for a “diplomatic solution” to the highly-charged standoff. Also topping the agenda was China’s rising development portfolio throughout the region –and the need to scale up America’s development finance tools in order to keep pace.
FRONTLINE HEROES. The USGLC’s 2017 Tribute Dinner was a remarkable conclusion to 2017 as we paid tribute to U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley for her strong support of America’s global leadership and the now 200 three and four-star generals who make up our National Security Advisory Council, co-chaired by Admiral Stavridis and General Zinni. The evening served as a strong reminder of the deep and wide support for America’s civilian tools, despite the challenges abroad and here at home.