A Deal is Reached

August 1, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Last night, President Obama and congressional leaders from both parties endorsed a deal to raise the debt ceiling and prevent government default. The agreement, expected to pass both the House and the Senate this week, would set discretionary spending caps of $1.043 trillion for FY12 and $1.047 trillion for FY13, separating defense and non-defense spending. This cap is about $24 billion larger than the FY12 level the House is currently using. Due to plans to recess as soon as the deal is approved, Wednesday’s House Appropriations Committee markup of the State-Foreign Operations bill has been cancelled. Making the case for why the International Affairs Budget is so critical to our national and economic security, Lt. Gen Pete Osman and Virginia Chamber of Commerce CEO Barry DuVal authored an opinion editorial yesterday in the Virginian Pilot, urging support for greater U.S. global engagement.

Must Reads

USGLC in the News

Investing globally for Virginia’s security, economy (Lt. Gen. Pete Osman and Barry DuVal, Virginian Pilot)

As Hampton Roads is one of the largest military complexes in the world, our thousands of men and women in uniform know the complex threats we face today require us to use a range of foreign policy tools, including development and diplomatic operations alongside defense, to keep our nation safe. As a military man and a businessman, it may seem like we come from different perspectives on U.S. foreign policy, but we both care deeply about building a better, safer world while also creating jobs here at home. From our collective experience, we know that one of the best ways to do this is with a strong and effective U.S. international affairs budget.

Smart Power

Spending cuts that threaten our influence abroad (Daniel Serwer, Washington Post)

The economical way to protect American national security today is to anticipate problems and prevent them from growing worse using all available instruments of projecting national power, civilian as well as military. Building more effective states in Iraq and Afghanistan has proven extraordinarily expensive, time-consuming and uncertain in its results. We can do far better if we act early, before war makes the challenges too complex. This will mean enhancing our civilian capacities, not cutting them to the bone.

US must learn from Britain and not cut foreign aid (Samuel Worthington, Guardian Blogs)

Current budget battles in Washington could result in an erosion of our country’s “soft power” as US agencies who implement core foreign assistance programmes come under financial attack. While specific account figures are not given in talks over raising the debt ceiling, the US NGO community fears associated cuts to what is known as “discretionary spending” will translate into less for poverty-focused development and humanitarian assistance. Talks on foreign affairs spending will be put before the House of Representatives appropriation committee on Wednesday. We can learn from Britain, where budgets are similarly strained and there is a view that targeting international development is not prudent. Money may be saved in the short-term but would lead to major security, humanitarian and global health headaches later on.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Against the Grain (Alexander Gaus and Julia Steets, Foreign Policy)

The world is in need of a global agreement to ensure a minimum level of food assistance to the most vulnerable. Such a pact could improve our humanitarian response and ensure that sufficient aid is provided to help mitigate the worst effects of famines and droughts like the one currently unfolding on the Horn of Africa.

USCCB, CRS call some proposed House cuts ‘morally unacceptable’ (CatholicCulture.org)

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services said on July 29 that the proposed House budget contains “morally unacceptable, even deadly cuts to poverty-focused humanitarian and development assistance.”…“Instead of these disproportionate cuts, we urge you to consider balanced adjustments across the entire federal budget, including defense, revenue, agricultural subsidies, and fair and just entitlement reform,” they added. “This bill reduces foreign operations appropriations by 2%, but poverty-focused international assistance by over 13% in addition to last year’s cut of over 8%. This is not a balanced, moral approach to budget reductions.”

Maternal Deaths Focus Harsh Light on Uganda (Celiea Dugger, New York Times)

As the United States and other donors have given African nations billions of dollars to fight AIDS and other infectious diseases, helping millions of people survive, most of the African governments have reduced their own share of domestic spending devoted to health, shifting to other priorities. For every dollar of foreign aid given to the governments of developing nations for health, the governments decreased their own health spending by 43 cents to $1.14, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation found in a 2010 study.

US foreign aid ‘needs greater coherence’, report says (Mark Tran, Guardian)

At a time when the administration is embroiled with Republicans in the House of Representatives over a row to raise America’s debt ceiling, the review said the US needs to strengthen public support for its aid programme through more targeted efforts to convey results. It says the administration would gain from engaging more strategically with NGOs, foundations and the private sector to advocate and raise public awareness for development. In other key recommendations, the review calls on the US to make more use of country systems where possible, to co-operate better with other donors, and to implement the OECD’s recommendation of untying aid.