A Lot of Action for a Friday

April 15, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Today, President Obama is expected to sign into law the spending compromise that will fund the government for the remainder of FY11. The agreement, which prevented a government shutdown, passed the House yesterday by a vote of 260-167 and the Senate by a vote of 81-19. The bill includes a cut of about 11% for the International Affairs Budget from FY10. Also today, the full House is considering budget proposals for FY12. The primary proposal, which was approved by the House Budget Committee last week and is expected to pass the House today, contains a deep and disproportionate cut to the International Affairs Budget of 18% from the newly adopted FY11 level (or nearly 30% from FY10 levels).  Alternative budgets are being considered, including a Democratic alternative introduced by Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) that fully funds the President’s FY12 request for development and diplomacy programs and continues the bipartisan tradition of classifying the International Affairs Budget as national security spending.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Hillary Clinton urges strong role for women in Arab world (Courtney Subramanian, the Daily Caller)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Arab leaders to move “faster and further” in reform in a speech Tuesday at the U.S.-Islam World Forum Tuesday, rousing audience members as she pushed leaders to give citizens a bigger role in regime change in the Middle East and North Africa.

Libya’s Pathway to Peace (Barack Obama, David Cameron, and Nicolas Sarkozy; NYT)

Together with our NATO allies and coalition partners, the United States, France and Britain have been united from the start in responding to the crisis in Libya, and we are united on what needs to happen in order to end it. Even as we continue our military operations today to protect civilians in Libya, we are determined to look to the future. We are convinced that better times lie ahead for the people of Libya, and a pathway can be forged to achieve just that.

Smart Power

So Much for Soft Power (Joshua Kurlantzick, CFR)

According to the Washington Post’s analysis of the deal on spending cuts agreed to between President Obama and Congress, one of the hardest-hit areas will be the State Department. In particular, the cuts will come down on foreign aid programs, including the Peace Corps, educational exchanges, and economic assistance programs designed to help fragile governments in the developing world.

FY2011 Budget Deal: $380m MCC Cut Likely to Affect Indonesia and Cape Verde (Sarah Staats, CGD)

The FY2011 budget deal is for the most part a better-than-expected story. The compromise cuts Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) funding $380 million from the $1.28 billion FY2011 request.  While this is better than the $790 million proposed in the original House funding bill (H.R.1), a $900 million budget for FY2011 will force the MCC to make difficult choices. Likely to be hit hardest: compacts being developed in Indonesia and Cape Verde.

Politics/Foreign Policy

The Budget and the Real Scandal of Foreign Aid (Stephen Glain, U.S. News and World Report)

In the mythology of our federal budget wars, no expenditure is as misunderstood as the “burden” of foreign aid. Not only does America’s foreign assistance budget represent a small slice of public outlays–less than 1 percent, compared with the two-thirds or so that is consumed by the Pentagon and entitlements–the nation is among the most miserly of donor countries. A mere 0.19 percent of gross national income is earmarked for humanitarian assistance, compared with the global average of 0.30 percent.

The Power of Music to Ignite Hope in Haiti (Dave Farrell and Peter Yeo, the Huffington Post)

As a member of a rock band and leader at the United Nations Foundation, we are a unique pair, but our goal is the same. We are committed to helping the United Nations protect Haitian women and girls from violence in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake and we are urging music fans around the world to do the same.

U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings (Ron Nixon, New York Times)

Even as the United States poured billions of dollars into foreign military programs and anti-terrorism campaigns, a small core of American government-financed organizations were promoting democracy in authoritarian Arab states. The money spent on these programs was minute compared with efforts led by the Pentagon. But as American officials and others look back at the uprisings of the Arab Spring, they are seeing that the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections.