Gates and Clinton Write Letters in Support of International Affairs Budget

April 22, 2010 By Jordan Smith

Demonstrating the important role the International Affairs Budget plays in our national security, Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton both wrote Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) this week expressing their support for the President’s full $58.5 billion request. “I strongly believe a robust civilian foreign affairs capability, coupled with a strong defense capability, is essential to preserving U.S. national security interests around the world,” the Secretary of Defense wrote in his letter. This year is a particularly challenging budget year, Gates acknowledges, with the economy struggling and many competing priorities vying for resources. But full funding of the International Affairs Budget “is necessary for our national security and for ensuring our continued leadership in the world.” It is rare for a Secretary of Defense to argue for more funding for another department, but Secretary Gates has long been a supporter of more funding for development and diplomacy, alongside a strong defense.

Secretary Clinton made a point to empathize with the Chairman Conrad’s difficult decisions in a troubled time–“I appreciate the difficult budget environment that confronts the Congress, but I strongly believe this budget request is critical to advancing U.S. national security and our interests around the world.” Secretary Clinton’s letter notes out that most of the funding in the President’s request would go to the “Frontline states” of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Excluding the monies for these three countries, the President’s International Affairs Budget requests only a $1.3 billion increase, or 2.7 %, over 2010 levels. Those funds encompass all of America’s investments in combating global poverty, food insecurity, climate change and disease, crises that threaten global stability and pose serious threats to American interests.

Yesterday, Chairman Conrad declined to take the Secretaries’ advice, as well as that of nearly 150 Members of Congress and other national security leaders, and cut the President International Affairs Budget request by $4 billion.