Bipartisan Victory Over Paul Amendment

September 16, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Yesterday, the Senate defeated – by a strong, bipartisan margin of 78-20 – an amendment sponsored by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) to cut nearly $7 billion from the State Department and USAID to offset disaster relief funding.  Several Senators spoke out against this amendment, which would have had devastating consequences for America’s engagement in the world. Senators speaking in favor of U.S. global leadership included Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who said “I want to try to get our fiscal house in order, but we have to defend this country.  The foreign operations account is national security in another form.”

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Supporting Health Workers on the Frontlines (Melinda Gates, Huffington Post)

World leaders will soon have a great opportunity to address the global health workforce shortage head on. Next week they’ll gather in New York for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and mark the one year anniversary of the Secretary General’s “Every Woman Every Child” strategy. Many of them have already committed to this push to accelerate progress on two of the world’s most underperforming Millennium Development Goals — reducing child deaths and improving maternal health.

Smart Power

IMF says prepared to aid Libya, Egypt (Reuters)

“If there is a need for short-term financing, the IMF is there to provide,” Masood Ahmed, director of the Fund’s Middle East and Central Asia department, said in an interview. But he added that Libya was not likely to need an extended aid program, since an estimated $150 billion of sovereign assets once controlled by ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his inner circle, now frozen abroad, would ultimately be available to the country.  The IMF is expected to play a key role in channeling international aid to countries affected by Arab Spring uprisings. On Saturday the Fund said it was willing to provide up to $35 billion in loans to those countries and announced it recognized Libya’s ruling interim council as a legitimate power.

The Lesson of Libya (Wall Street Journal Editorial)

The U.S. was still indispensable, even if we don’t want to admit it. The experience in Libya recalls Madeleine Albright’s line about America being the “indispensable nation.” U.S. military leadership was critical to a victory that Mr. Obama’s political detachment put in jeopardy.

Reid’s Disaster Aid Package Passes Senate (Niels Lesniewski, CQ )

A spending package for disaster relief narrowly won Senate passage Thursday, after overcoming objections that had delayed action on it earlier in the week. The other GOP amendment was offered by Kentucky’s Rand Paul, who wants to pay for the disaster assistance by rescinding fiscal 2011 funds for the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department. Paul argues that foreign aid programs should be reduced to pay for urgent priorities back in the United States. The Senate rebuffed Paul’s proposal, 20-78.

Amid Looming Cuts, USAID to Release 5-Year Strategy Friday (Ivy Mungcal, Devex)

The strategic plan that is to be released later this year will outline priorities regardless of budget, said Susan Reichle, assistant to the administrator for USAID’s bureau of policy, planning and learning. Reichle argued that the areas included in the framework are key to U.S. national security. Sullivan added the State Department plans to complete internal restructuring later this year based on recommendations in the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review published last year. Changes include the creation of two new undersecretary positions, including one who heads a newly created bureau focusing on crises.

Health expert says a ‘moral imperative’ is growing to face noncommunicable disease epidemic in poor countries (David Brown, The Washington Post)

A “moral imperative” is emerging to prevent and treat noncommunicable diseases in poor countries that is similar to the one that developed during the AIDS epidemic a decade ago, a leading health expert said Wednesday. That people in rich countries taking AIDS drugs could expect long lives while Africans, lacking them, died quickly was an injustice that eventually led to 6 million people in poor countries getting access to antiretroviral therapy, said Julio Frenk, former health minister of Mexico, during a meeting of experts and advocates in Washington, D.C.

Pakistan flooding: Misery, disease, little aid to victims (Reuters)

Pakistani soldiers in inflatable rescue boats peered across kilometers of flooded farmland and spotted a man wading through waist-deep water desperate to move his goat to high ground. For the past two weeks, Kaywall has spent 12 hours a day moving his family’s livestock from his inundated village to the small town of Pingrio in Sindh province in the south. The goats are the only thing he has managed to save from raging waters which swept away his house and belongings. Like many other flood victims, he awaits help from Pakistan’s cash-strapped government. ”

Politics/Foreign Policy

GOP eyes year-end omnibus (David Rogers, Politico)

Reversing their past rhetoric, House Republicans are actively considering plans to bundle the 12 annual appropriations bills into a single omnibus package that meets spending targets set in the August budget accord and can be enacted before the December showdown over further deficit reduction. Both the House and the Senate panels are effectively borrowing from overseas contingency funds to help meet their targets. War spending for Iraq and Afghanistan is down from 2011 but still a sizable $117.8 billion opportunity to move money around. Thus, while the Senate bill cuts almost $9 billion from core defense procurement, it adds more than $3.1 billion to procurement funds within the contingency accounts. And $5.4 billion in savings from “general provisions” are counted in the same war funding accounts.

The U.S. Must Support Israel At the U.N. (Gov. Rick Perry, Wall Street Journal)

The U.S.—and the U.N—should do everything possible to discourage the Palestinian leadership from pursuing its current course. The U.S. should oppose the statehood measure by using our veto in the Security Council, as President Obama has pledged to do, and by doing everything we can to weaken support for the unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood in the General Assembly. The U.S. must affirm that the precondition for any properly negotiated future settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is the formal recognition of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state behind secure borders.

Palestinians Vow to Pursue Statehood at UN (Robert Berger, Voice of America)

Palestinians vowed Thursday to seek full membership at the United Nations next week, despite Israeli and U.S. objections, but left open the possibility of a resumption of Mideast peace talks. Palestinians say their president, Mahmoud Abbas, will address the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, and also will ask the Security Council to recognize Palestine as an independent state – a necessary condition for full U.N. membership. The Obama administration has promised to veto such a resolution.