Good News and Bad News

May 12, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Yesterday the House Appropriations Committee released the all-important appropriations allocations–“302(b)s”–for FY12.  Due to the way the Committee describes these allocations, there has been some confusion about the exact funding levels for the International Affairs Budget.  And there is both good news and bad news in the allocation.  On one hand, the $47.2 billion House allocation marks a major improvement from the House budget resolution that contained a deep and disproportionate 18% cut ($39b).  On the other hand, we are concerned that the allocation results in deep cuts for core (non-war related) programs – nearly a 20% reduction from FY10 levels and 22% from the President’s request.

Must Reads
Who’s In the News

Jim Kolbe talks foreign aid with Northwestern’s Political Union (JD Bryant – ONE blog)

Mr. Kolbe started by speaking about the inevitable cuts we will be making to many different pieces of our upcoming federal budgets. But, in light of those cuts, he told us, “At a time when we’re cutting back on our military commitments, more than ever, we need to make commitments to the non-military side, the development side.”

Smart Power

Pakistan military aid safer than economic aid (Josh Rogin – The Cable blog)

As Congress contemplates cutting U.S. aid to Pakistan in light of the discovery that Osama bin Laden had been hiding there for years, the funds most at risk from disgruntled lawmakers are those currently allocated to the civilian government that is more sympathetic to Washington, rather than the money going to the Pakistani military, which is more wary of ties to the United States.   This irony is not lost on senior U.S. lawmakers who are thinking about scaling back promises of economic assistance. Most vulnerable are the funds promised under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman aid package, which total $7.5 billion over five years.

Move to Aid Middle East Rebels Gains Ground (Emily Cadei, CQ )

The Obama administration is working with several key senators to expand aid to nascent democratic movements in the Middle East and North Africa, but those efforts will face resistance in both chambers. Sens. John McCain, John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and others are collaborating with State Department officials on an economic assistance package to Egypt that could include significant debt relief.

Deep and Disproportionate Cuts to the International Affairs Budget: Dangerous to our National Security (Liz Schrayer – the Will and the Wallet)

In these tough economic times, leaders in Congress have some difficult choices ahead of them to get our deficit under control and our fiscal house in order.  In recent weeks, however, we haven’t been able to open a newspaper without seeing evidence of the dangerous, complex and every-changing world in which we live.  These are every day reminders that we cannot allow deep and disproportionate cuts to risk our national security and leadership in the world.

Politics/Foreign Policy
Fighting Words (Joshua E. Keating – Foreign Policy)

From Gingrichian Red-baiting to Palinian Tea-Partyism, a quick primer on the GOP’s foreign-policy punch lines

Chaffetz rips US disaster relief efforts (Matt Canham – Salt Lake Tribune)

House Republicans on Wednesday called U.S. disaster relief efforts in earthquake-ravaged Haiti “pathetic” and charged the nation’s foreign assistance agency with failing to track its money appropriately or monitor the results of its efforts.

NY lawmakers to diplomats: Pay your parking tickets or lose your foreign aid (Jordan Fabian – The Hill)

A trio of lawmakers from the New York City area introduced legislation Wednesday that would punish foreign countries whose diplomats do not pay city parking tickets.  The unusual bill proposed by Reps. Michael Grimm (R), Pete King (R) and Edolphus Towns (D) would require the U.S. government to strip foreign aid and diplomatic license plates from a country when it fails to pay overdue parking fines as of Sept. 15 each year “and reappropriate any of the obligated foreign aid funds for the amount outstanding.”

Peace Corps chief expresses regret for sexual assaults on young volunteers (Lisa Rein, Washington Post)

The chief of the Peace Corps appeared on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to express regret for the agency’s failure to respond with compassion to a series of rapes of young volunteers and the recent slaying of another while they served overseas. Director Aaron S. Williams told angry lawmakers on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs he was “amazed and shocked” when he learned of the crimes, which he said gave him “great anguish.”