A Weekend for Budget Lovers

February 11, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

House Appropriators continue to consider even deeper cuts to the International Affairs Budget than the previously proposed 13 percent cut.  Details of the continuing resolution are expected to be released today.  Yesterday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on Egypt and Lebanon with Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg as the principal witness, and at one point the conversation turned to programs funded by the International Affairs Budget. Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) raised important points about how the International Affairs Budget is an essential part of our national security, saying “to those who suggest that we ought to eliminate foreign aid all together, I suggest to them that they would be putting the country at risk.” In other news, it will be a weekend for budget-lovers across Washington and beyond as we anticipate the release of President Obama’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2012 on Valentine’s Day this Monday. Once the budget is released, be sure to visit the USGLC website frequently for up-to-the-minute budget updates.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Rep. Kay Granger and Hillary Clinton set to talk foreign aid (Todd Gilman, Dallas Morning News)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to meet this morning with Fort Worth Rep. Kay Granger. Since Granger controls the purse strings for the State Department and foreign aid, as chair of the relevant Appropriations subcommittee, it’s an important audience, for Clinton. Congress is poised to set a budget for the rest of the fiscal year – some unfinished business from 2010.

Palin: Foreign aid should not be considered ‘Holy Grail’ (Michael O’Brien, the Hill)

The U.S. might need to “pull back” its foreign aid for some countries, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) said Thursday evening. Palin, prompted by a question about whether it was appropriate for the U.S. to supply aid to the government of Egypt, suggested it was time to consider cuts to foreign aid across the board.

Smart Power

The Freedom Alliance (David Brooks, NYT)

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a chance to interview some amazing people. I sat down with Bill Gates, who was in Washington to try to keep the looming budget cuts from decimating the foreign aid programs.

Building a Better, Safer World Starting on Capitol Hill (Mary Deering, MFAN)

Two weeks ago representatives from NGO’s, the private sector, and retired military service members convened on Capitol Hill to meet face-to-face with close to two thirds of freshman legislators and their staffs. The day, orchestrated by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, was focused on educating these new lawmakers on the importance of the International Affairs budget  to our national security and economic prosperity.

Politics/Foreign Policy

From freedom agenda to freedom doctrine (Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post)

We need a foreign policy that not only supports freedom in the abstract but is guided by long-range practical principles to achieve it – a Freedom Doctrine.

Opening shot fired in foreign aid battle (Daniel Dombey, FT)

A battlefront has opened up between the Obama administration and Republicans on Capitol Hill about the US role in the world, with the White House warning plans to cut spending on diplomacy and foreign aid will endanger national security. Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, met Paul Ryan, the new chairman of the House of Representatives budget committee, on Thursday to set out her objections to the House Republicans’ deficit-cutting plans.

Military priorities are distorting aid budgets, says Oxfam (Richard Taylor, the Guardian)

Western military interests driven by the “war on terror” are endangering aid workers, distorting budgets, and depriving the most needy of help, according to Oxfam. In a report reflecting increasing concern among humanitarian agencies, the charity warns that Britain is under pressure to repeat mistakes committed by other international donors, notably the US.

U.S. Preparing Aid Package For Egypt Opposition (Massimo Calabresi, Time)

As Hosni Mubarak clings to power in Egypt, President Barack Obama and his foreign policy aides face two problems. First, with diminishing influence over Mubarak, they have to try to ensure the dictator fully relinquishes control. Obama took a stab at this problem Thursday evening after Mubarak’s oblique and seemingly insufficient declaration that he was transferring some power to his vice president Omar Suleiman.