Cuts Like a Knife

February 10, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Today we expected the House Appropriations Committee would release details of the allocations for the FY 2011 budget, with at least a 13 percent cut for the International Affairs Budget.  Now, the Committee is considering even deeper cuts, and allocations are expected to be released tomorrow.  The plan would still be to take the proposals to the House Floor next week, where they could be subject to further cuts.  Also this morning, a new op-ed in Politico by USGLC Chairman George Ingram, Advisory Council member Jim Kolbe, and David Beckman with Bread for the World makes a compelling case for a strong and effective International Affairs budget, even in the current environment, and yesterday, Congressman Steve Rothman (D-NJ) took to the House floor to argue that cutting the International Affairs budget would harm our national security.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

The facts on foreign aid (Rev. Beckman, George Ingram and Jim Kolbe, Politico)

More important, we must stop using foreign assistance as a budget piñata. Development is now a key component of U.S. foreign policy — with defense and diplomacy. Our modest investment in strategic and effective foreign assistance programs pays outsize dividends in terms of our security, prosperity and global leadership.

Let’s be smart about foreign aid in the debates ahead (Larry Nowels, the Hill)

Over the next seven days the House will act on finalizing the fiscal year 2011 budget and President Obama will unveil his spending blueprint for 2012. Washington is abuzz about budget cuts starting with White House plans to freeze non-security resources for five years and House Republican initiatives to roll back spending levels to 2008 or earlier.

Smart Power

Petition Launched to Seek Robust US Global Health Funding (Ma. Rizza Leonzon, DEVEX)

Health professionals and nonprofit groups have launched a petition to seek congressional support for the U.S. government’s global health programs. An online letter is circulating to press Congress to protect the budget for the Global Health Initiative, the U.S. government’s flagship program on improving health services overseas.

Will Obama’s FY2012 Budget Lead to a Development-Lover’s Quarrel? (Sarah Staats, CGD)

President Obama’s FY2012 budget request comes out on Valentine’s Day. Will the development community react to the president’s budget missive with love or loathing?  My fear is that it will create a development-lover’s quarrel: a shrinking pot of money means development advocates will squabble over their own priorities and sectors at the expense of a widely shared new vision for U.S. global development and better aid.

Politics/Foreign Policy

GOP effort to take back U.N. money fails (Josh Rogin, the Cable)

The House Republicans’ effort to retrieve $180 million paid by U.S. taxpayers to the United Nations, $100 million of which will go to homeland security in New York City, failed by a close vote on Wednesday afternoon. The bill would have sought to take back money the United States has already paid to the U.N.’s Tax Equalization Fund, which reimburses American employees there for payroll taxes.

The price of democracy in Egypt (Andrew Masloski, FP)

Since 1979 the United States has spent nearly $2 billion annually on aid to Egypt.  Approximately two-thirds has been spent on “foster[ing] a well-trained, modern Egyptian military,” with the purpose of ensuring stability in the country and in the region.  The remainder of the aid has funded development and economic aid programs targeting civil society development, political party training, and educational exchanges, among other aims.

Experts Say US Should Link Military Aid to Egypt to Democratic Transition (Cindy Saine, VOA)

The U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affair has held a hearing on implications for U.S. foreign policy of recent events in Egypt and Lebanon.  Middle East experts advised the panel that Congress and the Obama administration should send a strong message to the Egyptian military that further U.S. aid will be contingent on the military’s respect for the rights of protesters and its support for a democratic transition.

GOP cuts deep as right revolts (David Rodgers, Politico)

Faced with a revolt on the right, House Republicans scrambled Wednesday to adjust their budget strategy and come up with tens of billions of dollars in additional savings — including a possible across-the-board cut — to appease tea party supporters. The day began with the once-proud House Appropriations Committee previewing what it saw as an unprecedented package of more than $40 billion in reductions from current domestic and foreign aid funding.