It Ain’t Over Yet

February 18, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

The House continues its work on FY 2011 appropriations today and is expected to work into the evening.  While across-the-board cuts that would be further detrimental to the International Affairs Budget are still in play, the overall good news from yesterday’s debate is only four of the few dozen additional International Affairs cutting amendments filed were actually offered and debated.  Of those, an amendment offered by Representative Dean Heller (R-NV) to reduce several multilateral accounts by more than $211 million dollars was defeated – sending a message of the importance of these vital programs.  Strong supportive statements for International Affairs programs were made in from chambers yesterday.  Senator Lindsey Graham told CQ that “Diplomatic aid, rule of law aid, food programs . . . can deny al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood and other groups momentum,” while House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Howard Berman said on the House floor, “Aid is not a gift. The United States provides foreign assistance because it serves our interests.”  In addition, Defense Secretary Robert Gates testified that funding for civilian capacity is “a critically urgent concern” at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Gates pleads for ‘critically urgent’ funds for State Department’s work in Iraq (Walter Pincus, the Washington Post)

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told a Senate committee Thursday that everything the United States has accomplished in Iraq  is potentially at risk if the State Department does not get the money it has requested to fund its work there as U.S. forces exit this year.

Graham Proposes Beefing Up U.S. Aid to Middle East to Foster Democracy (Emily Cadei, CQ)

At a time when U.S. assistance to foreign countries is under the knife, a leading Republican voice on international affairs is calling for robust American investment in aid to the Middle East.  Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the newly appointed ranking member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees foreign aid funding, said in an interview Thursday that the best way to prevent the rise of Islamist movements in emerging democracies in the Middle East — a key concern in Congress — is for the United States to “be fully engaged economically.”

Smart Power

Slashing international assistance hurts women and girls (Ritu Sharma, the Hill)

It’s budget season, and America is tightening its belt. Congress is doing its part by preparing to cut the international affairs budget by close to 20 percent, a move that could undermine national security, defy military leaders’ advice and endanger U.S. interests and core values.

Will the U.S. Lead on Global Health? Start with Vaccination. (Amanda Glassman, CGD)

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah gave a speech  yesterday at the National Institutes of Health, highlighting his aspirations for U.S. leadership on global health. By 2015, among other goals, he hopes that “the majority of all children have access to pentavalent, rota, pneumo and meningitis vaccines and that we have eradicated polio.”

Politics/Foreign Policy

House Kills Bill on Cutting $211M from State Budget (Ma. Rizza Leonzon, DEVEX)

The U.S. House of Representatives shot down Feb. 17 a bill that seeks to slash some $211 million from the coffers of the State Department in fiscal 2011. Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) proposed to cut $211 million from the State’s multilateral assistance account, which provides financing to the World Bank’s International Development Association, UNICEF, African Development Fund, United Nations Democracy Fund and Strategic Climate Fund.

House funding bill cuts $1 billion from nuclear security and nonproliferation (Josh Rogin, the Cable)

The House GOP funding bill currently under debate would slash over $1 billion from the government agencies that work to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of rogue states and terrorists — money that Senate Republicans fought to increase only last fall during the debate over the New START treaty with Russia.

Supporting the transition in Egypt (Secretary Clinton, the Hill)

General Cartwright and I and Under Secretary Burns have just come out of a bipartisan classified briefing with senators, where we talked about recent events in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. General Cartwright, Under Secretary Burns, and I wanted to come up to Capitol Hill to let our Congressional colleagues know what we’re doing to support Egypt as it works toward an open, accountable, representative government.

Hillary Clinton allocates Egypt funds (Shira Toeplitz, Politico)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced on Capitol Hill Thursday that State Department will dedicate $150 million towards the United States’ efforts in Egypt. “I’m pleased to announce today that we will be reprogramming $150 million for Egypt to put ourselves in a position to support our transition there and assist with their economic recovery,” she told reporters. “These funds will give us flexibility to respond to Egyptian needs moving forward.”