Alternative Budget Classifies International Affairs Programs as National Security

April 18, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Friday on the House floor, Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the House Democrats’ alternative budget for Fiscal Year 2012. This version of the budget, which failed by a vote of 166-259, fully funds the President’s FY12 budget request for the International Affairs Budget and continues the essential bipartisan tradition of classifying this critical funding as national security spending.

Begun under the Bush Administration and continued through the Obama Administration, this bipartisan tradition takes the advice of our top military leaders to heart. Military leaders from General David Petraeus to Admiral Mike Mullen and more have made clear that in today’s dangerous world, smart power programs like development and diplomacy are integral parts of our national security operations.

Unfortunately, the House Budget Committee’s FY12 budget which passed the full House on Friday (H.Con.Res. 34) breaks from this bipartisan tradition, proposing deep and disproportionate cuts to the International Affairs Budget, in stark contrast to other types of national security spending.   The funding level in this measure is a dramatic 27% reduction from FY10 funding and 18% below the newly agreed to FY11 funding level.

The  alternative budget proposed by Representative Van Hollen has a section titled “Policy of the House on National Security,” which finds that “the country’s national security depends upon a well-coordinated strategy that involves the Department of Defense, the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and international affairs programs – including those at the Department of State and the Agency for International Development.”

The proposal also notes “the national security recommendations of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform contained a number of suggestions for savings that could be made without jeopardizing our troops, military families, veterans, or the country’s security and global standing.”

Three other alternative budgets were proposed and rejected on the House floor Friday.

  • The Republican Study Committee budget, which reduced overall non-defense discretionary spending (including International Affairs Budget) by 50%, failed by a vote of 119-136.
  • The Congressional Black Caucus budget, which funded the International Affairs Budget at $59 billion (nearly the President’s requested level), failed by a vote of 103-303.
  • The Congressional Progressive Caucus budget, which boosted International Affairs Budget funding well beyond the request level, to a total of $106 billion, failed by a vote of 77-347.