New Budget Votes

March 7, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Senate Democrats released their proposed alternative Continuing Resolution (CR) on Friday afternoon which cuts $51 billion relative to the President’s FY11 request. For State-Foreign Operations, which constitutes the vast majority of the International Affairs Budget, the Senate measure provides $50.15 billion, $500 million below current CR levels and $4.2 billion (7.6%) below FY10 levels. The House-passed CR (H.R. 1), which reduces total spending $102 billion below the President’s request level, includes a 19% cut to the International Affairs Budget (for State-Foreign Operations the cut is 16%). Starting as early as tomorrow, the Senate will take up both its CR and the much deeper cuts contained in the House’s H.R. 1. Neither measure is likely to receive filibuster-proof support, underscoring the need for a broader budget deal between the Senate, House Republicans, and the White House. CQ featured two articles on the International Affairs Budget over the weekend, one discussing the Senate’s broader view of security spending and the other on USGLC’s recent NSAC Lobby Day.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Land O’Lakes makes case for more food (Jim Spencer, Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

CEO Chris Policinski says policies to boost output would help global stability. En route to a day’s worth of meetings with members of Congress to sing the praises of America’s farmers, Land O’Lakes CEO Chris Policinski took the broad view of the world’s skyrocketing food prices — now at record highs.

When Warriors Talk, Politicians Listen — Well, Most of Them (Emily Cadei, CQ)

The calculation is simple: Lawmakers are more likely to heed the pitch that diplomacy and development are essential to national security when it comes from a battle-hardened general than from an aid worker. And conversations with senators largely seem to reinforce that view. The most recent effort was organized by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a group of business, nonprofit and foreign policy leaders. The group sent a half-dozen retired admirals and generals to Capitol Hill last week to visit the offices of House and Senate members who serve on the Appropriations and foreign policy committees.

US aid cuts could drive troops to Africa: activists (Karin Zeitvogel , AFP)

Republicans’ proposed cuts to US foreign aid could undo food security efforts in developing nations and spark unrest requiring US military intervention, activists and officials warned Thursday.”Members of Congress need to know that there are serious and very real consequences to cutting aid,” Ritu Sharma, president of US advocacy group Women Thrive, told AFP.

Smart Power

In Fiscal 2011 Bill, Senate Democrats Take a Broader View of ‘Security’ Spending (Emily Cadei, CQ)

Senate Democrats released a budget proposal for the rest of fiscal 2011 that lays out a vision of national security priorities that they believe is at odds with House Republicans. For starters, Democratic appropriators carved out a far broader view of what government activities qualify as national security than did House Republicans, who lumped funding for diplomacy, foreign aid and nuclear and weapons of mass destruction nonproliferation efforts into their non-security discretionary spending bill. The House-passed bill would cut $61.5 billion from fiscal 2010 spending levels, including deep cuts to accounts for State Department and foreign assistance and for homeland security.

Why Egypt has to be the U.S. priority in the Middle East (Robert Kagan and Michele Dunne, Washington Post)

T here’s a danger that the United States and Europe may lose sight of what still has to be our highest priority in the region: helping the people of Egypt complete their transition to democracy and a new chance at prosperity. But there are important kinds of help that we can provide – above all, economic assistance. As in Eastern Europe, the first wave of enthusiasm for democracy will give way to questions about how well this form of government can deliver the goods.

The Budget Line Neither Party’s Willing To Defend: Foreign Aid (Michelle Chen, Huffington Post)

The U.S.could at least start to repurpose aid to Egypt toward programs that foster civil society, education and development initiatives that respect social and economic rights. Instead, balanced budget theatrics in Washington could undermine burgeoning democracy in Arab countries, advances against poverty and disease in Africa, and the plight of farmers in South Asia. But the country’s priorities are what’s really off balance.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Senate sets major budget votes (David Rodgers, Politico)

Sharpening the contrast with House Republicans, Senate Democrats introduced Friday their own budget for the remainder of this fiscal year, restoring tens of billions for domestic and foreign aid programs even as the Pentagon would get about $2.1 billion less than the GOP proposes.  Apart from the added defense savings, Inouye chose to put a heavy emphasis on “security” issues: restoring House-passed cuts from border enforcement and nuclear nonproliferation programs and adding back $5.2 billion for the State department and foreign aid, including assistance to frontline states like Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In Afghanistan, U.S. shifts strategy on women’s rights as it eyes wider priorities (Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post)

When the U.S. Agency for International Development sought bids last March for a $140 million land reform program in Afghanistan, it insisted that the winning contractor meet specific goals to promote women’s rights: The number of deeds granting women title had to increase by 50 percent; there would have to be regular media coverage on women’s land rights; and teaching materials for secondary schools and universities would have to include material on women’s rights

Villages set to expand India’s consumer market (Rama Lakshmi, Washington Post)

Rural India used to seem like Mars to market researchers, but now they are arduously combing through the countryside to scrutinize the consumption habits and aspirations of villagers like Rehman. Their findings, gathered over the past three years, promise a new frontier that could transform the way domestic and foreign businesses look at the Indian market and could offer them hundreds of millions of potential consumers.