Business Defends the International Affairs Budget

March 29, 2011 By Mac Stoddard

As the budget battle continues to heat up on Capitol Hill, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce weighed in today on how critical a strong and effective International Affairs Budget is to our economy “especially at a time when there is a wide recognition of the need to boost U.S. exports to create American jobs.”  The Chamber reminds Members of Congress in its letter that “developing countries last year purchased more than half of all U.S. exports for the first time in years.”  With one in five U.S. jobs tied to trade and exports, the International Affairs Budget, at just over one percent of the federal budget, pays huge dividends back to the American people.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Player of the Week: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (The Hill Editors)

As the new chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ros-Lehtinen could make a significant new mark during this Congress. Her panel is scheduled to hold a hearing this week on America’s role in Libya. She and other committee Republicans are expected to criticize Obama’s handling of the issue.

Psst: Did you hear who may replace Bob Gates? (Laura Rozen, the Envoy)

Officials say Panetta has emerged as the most likely nominee from a field of candidates that has reportedly included Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), former Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre, former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, and former Secretary of State and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, a sometimes Obama confidante.

Smart Power

Aid Community Grapples with US Budget Uncertainties (Chhandasi Pandy, DEVEX)

The next deadline for the U.S. Congress to pass a full fiscal year 2011 budget or another short-term continuing resolution is fast approaching, and the international aid community is scrambling to engage members of Congress and the American public in a dialogue about the need to secure U.S. foreign assistance funding.

Military drawdown could hit aid flows (IRIN)

The planned drawdown of US-NATO troops in Afghanistan later this year could adversely affect the flow of foreign aid to a country where the achievements since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 are still fragile, aid workers warn.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Conservatives plan rogue budget to challenge Republicans (Jake Sherman & Jonathan Allen, Politico)

If House Republican leaders are looking to tighten the nation’s fiscal belt, the budget hawks in the conservative Republican Study Committee want to apply it as a tourniquet. Their tool: an ambitious fiscal 2012 alternative budget that will challenge the official GOP leadership’s spending plan and once again reveal divides within the Republican Party over how deep to cut the government.

CR deal elusive as shutdown looms (David Rogers, Politico)

The White House and Republicans are within striking distance of a deal on spending cuts for this year, but policy differences and tea party pressures will make it difficult to reach closure before a threatened government shutdown April 8.

Uganda AIDS Programs at Risk from Proposed US Budget Cuts (VOA)
Uganda was one of the first sub-Saharan African countries to address the HIV/AIDS crisis early on.  Over the years, it’s come to rely heavily on U.S. support for its prevention and treatment programs.  But Congress is considering cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

Congress: do not take a hatchet to foreign aid (Rachel Bandler, The Tech)

President Obama is receiving harsh bipartisan criticism for his handling of the economy, and his approval ratings are at an all-time low. Many are calling for the U.S. to reduce foreign aid and to pursue isolationist policies in order to save money. However, it is not in our best interest to take a hatchet to foreign aid.

Obama, Libya and the GOP (WSJ)

President Obama made a substantial case for his Libya intervention for the first time Monday evening, and however overdue and self-referential (“I refused to let that happen”), we welcome the effort. Perhaps it will give Republicans a reason to emerge as constructive, rather than partisan, foreign-policy critics as well.