18 Former Senate Leaders Urge Congress to Protect International Affairs Budget

April 7, 2016 By Elizabeth Holtan

This week, a bipartisan group of former U.S. senators came together in support of America’s international affairs funding, urging the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee to maintain America’s role in the world.

As former colleagues, we write to relay our support for the International Affairs Budget and the important role development and diplomacy programs play in confronting the growing global challenges and advancing our interests throughout the world.

The U.S. is facing new and unprecedented challenges around the world, and it’s clear that what happens outside our borders affects us. The senators write:

We appreciate the enormous decisions currently facing the Senate and understand that you continue to work under a constrained budget environment. However, today America faces unprecedented global challenges, including rapidly increasing humanitarian crises, while funding for International Affairs has been cut by 12% since FY10 when adjusted for inflation, and base funding has declined 30% in that same period.

Over the last six years, the world has changed dramatically—from the rise of ISIS and the historic refugee crisis in the Middle East, to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in Eastern Europe, to growing concerns of pandemic threats. We fear the United States is not keeping pace with these growing challenges and further cuts to International Affairs would only make it more difficult to respond to world events.

Our nation’s international affairs programs are an important line of defense, and the senators remind us that the International Affairs Budget funds everything from U.S. embassies and diplomats, to economic development programs, humanitarian aid workers, and initiatives that create and expand new markets for American companies — all critical, traditional elements of U.S foreign policy.

Strategic investments in development and diplomacy are crucial to advancing our national security and economic interests while ensuring a more secure and stable world. For just 1% of the federal budget, these programs are cost-effective investments that enable the United States to support allies like Israel and Jordan, respond to humanitarian crises, and promote U.S. interests abroad. To that end, we believe strongly that the International Affairs Budget is a critical component to our overall national security strategy and urge you to protect these programs from further cuts.

The letter’s signatories include:

  • Hon. William H. Frist, Former Majority Leader, U.S. Senate (1995 – 2007)
  • Hon. Thomas A. Daschle, Former Majority Leader, U.S. Senate (1987 – 2005) 
  • Hon. George Allen, U.S. Senate (2001 – 2007)
  • Hon. Norm Coleman, U.S. Senate (2003 – 2009)
  • Hon. Kay Bailey Hutchison, U.S. Senate (1993 – 2013)
  • Hon. Richard G. Lugar, U.S. Senate (1977 – 2013)
  • Hon. Mel Martínez, U.S. Senate (2005 – 2009)
  • Hon. Sam Nunn, U.S. Senate (1973 – 1997)
  • Hon. Bill Bradley, U.S. Senate (1979 – 1997)
  • Hon. Gary Hart, U.S. Senate (1975 – 1987)
  • Hon. Robert W. Kasten, Jr., U.S. Senate (1981 – 1993)
  • Hon. Connie Mack, U.S. Senate (1989 – 2001)
  • Hon. E. Benjamin Nelson, U.S. Senate (2001 – 2013)
  • Hon. Charles S. Robb, U.S. Senate (1989 – 2001) 
  • Hon. Jim Sasser, U.S. Senate (1977 – 1995)
  • Hon. John Warner, U.S. Senate (1979 – 2009)
  • Hon. Gordon Smith, U.S. Senate (1997 – 2009) 
  • Hon. Timothy E. Wirth, U.S. Senate (1987 – 1993)

View the letter here (PDF), as it originally appeared on CQ, or below.

Photo: Source, Wikimedia

18 Former Senate Leaders Urge Congress to Protect International Affairs Budget