Making the Case – On the Hill and in the Press

April 14, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

This morning, USGLC Chairman Dan Glickman and Senior Director Mark Green wrote an op-ed for Fox News previewing their testimony today on Capitol Hill. Both former Members of Congress, Glickman and Green called on their colleagues to pass a strong and effective International Affairs Budget at today’s hearing of the House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee. To read their full testimony, click here. The House votes today on the FY11 spending deal, and Republicans are confident it will have enough votes to pass, although it may take Democratic support to do so. The Senate will take up the package as soon as it clears the House, and the Senate may vote as soon as later today. The House today begins debate on the FY12 House budget resolution, and votes tomorrow on the budget resolution as well as up to five substitute budgets.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Spending cuts bill hits defense and foreign aid (AP via CBS News)

Tea partyers insistent on cutting military spending and foreign aid will find plenty to like in the deal struck by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders. No money for an alternative engine for the multibillion-dollar Joint Strike Fighter. Millions of dollars in cuts for the United Nations. A major reduction in spending on the Global Agriculture and Food Security Fund.

Barack Obama says foreign aid makes up 1 percent of U.S. budget (PolitiFact)

We wanted to start with a remark the president made to back up his contention that politicians often focus their deficit-cutting rhetoric on hot-button programs that are just a small portion of the federal budget. Politicians in both parties, he said, “suggest that we can somehow close our entire deficit by eliminating things like foreign aid, even though foreign aid makes up about 1% of our entire budget.”

US foreign aid takes immediate cuts, and further battles loom (Claire Provost, the Guardian)

According to the US Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), the US is to slash funding for foreign aid and international affairs programs by $6.5bn as part of the last-minute compromise agreed in Congress last Friday. The USGLC called on Congress to avoid deep and disproportionate cuts to the international affairs budget as the debate on the 2012 budget begins. “Our hope is just as Congress reduced the dangerous cuts in this year’s House proposal, they will remember what a good return on investment it is for the American taxpayer in 2012,” said the USGLC’s Richard Parker.

Smart Power

State Dept fiscal discipline requires strengthening OIG (Joel Smith, the Will and the Wallet)

H.R. 1 included a provision to cut the State Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) by more than ten percent. Although this provision didn’t make it into the final CR, the House Foreign Affairs Committee explored OIG operations in a hearing last Tuesday, and Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) took that opportunity to defend the position.

FY2011 Budget Deal: International Financial Institution Winners and Losers (Sarah Jane Staats, CGD)

The FY2011 budget deal worked out over the weekend to avoid a government shutdown includes $8 billion in cuts to foreign operations spending. The numbers aren’t as bad as feared, as my colleague Connie Veillette argues. The international financial institutions take a $1 billion hit overall, but come out with $850 million more than the first House spending plan—H.R.1—would have allotted.

Rajiv Shah Affirms Proper Oversight of Food Security, Afghanistan Projects (Ma. Rizza Leonzon, DEVEX)

Foreign aid investments in Afghanistan and global food security are among the flagship projects in the U.S. government’s international affairs portfolio. U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah shared how the Obama administration ensures the effective use of limited U.S. funding for these projects. In a testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday (April 13), Shah said his agency has outlined certification requirements for Afghan projects in a bid to improve the vetting process and project oversight.

Politics/Foreign Policy

U.S. public diplomacy and the Arab uprisings (Marc Lynch, FP)

One implication of this is that the burden on U.S. public diplomacy has never been greater.  As the role of publics expands, it becomes ever more urgent that the U.S. better understand them and effectively engage with them across a far wider spectrum (it’s incomprehensible that Congress wants to slash funding for these functions at precisely the time they are most needed).

World Will Help New Democracies, But How Much? (Alan Greenblatt, NPR)

But even as many nations will be seeking help in building up their societies, there may be less money available from rich countries. Alexander’s plan calls for private donors and foundations to put up billions of dollars, not governments. The budget agreement brokered last weekend would cut $377 million from the U.S. contributions to the United Nations and other international institutions, as well as $110 million from the State Department’s Civilian Stabilization Initiatives.