One Day, Two Budgets

February 14, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

On Friday evening, the House Appropriations Committee introduced its continuing resolution, which inflicts even deeper cuts than previously announced to the International Affairs budget for the remainder of the current fiscal year.  The USGLC is extremely concerned about this legislation.  Levels proposed in the House would weaken many of the achievements of both Republican and Democratic Administrations over the past several years to develop a smart power foreign policy approach elevating our diplomatic and global development activities.  While the budget battles of FY 2011 are far from over, this morning, President Obama will release his budget request for FY 2012.  Despite intense pressure to trim the bottom line, we expect the President’s request for the International Affairs budget to protect America’s national security interests by continuing the bipartisan tradition, begun by President George W. Bush, of including the International Affairs budget as part of our national security spending.  The USGLC’s online budget center will be your go-to source for news, analysis and up-to-the-minute budget numbers. Please check back frequently for the latest information.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Graham says US aid was critical in Egypt (Clark Brooks, Greenville Online)

Even while cutting foreign aid to help reduce federal spending, the United States must give Egyptians any help they request in shaping their new government, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday. “To the Egyptian people, if you want our assistance, I would do whatever I could to provide it as a member of the Senate,” Graham said.

Time to tap our technological genius to address food supply problems (Dan Glickman, Agri-Pulse)

Last week, The U.S. Department of Agriculture, in its newest crop forecast, estimated that world output for crops is projected to fall 2.1% after droughts in Ukraine, Russia and other parts of Europe, and heavy rains in parts of the U.S., Canada and Australia. Even more concerning, a recent drought in China’s major wheat producing areas threatens to push world food prices beyond their current high levels.

Global Fund Deserves Our Support (Ken Hackett, Huffington Post)

It is no surprise that in the current budget cutting climate sweeping over Washington that many have taken aim at foreign aid, long a favorite target that is easy to demagogue no matter what the evidence to the contrary. Michael Gerson ably defended the Global Fund in a recent column in the Washington Post. We would like to add to his the voice of Catholic Relief Services, where we have been implementing programs underwritten by the Global Fund since it began in 2002. We know how important the Fund is to the health and well-being of millions of people around the world, both in combating diseases and strengthening public and faith-based health systems.

Smart Power

US foreign aid benefits recipients – and the donor (Samuel Worthington, the Guardian)

When Americans guess how much their government spends on foreign aid, they usually estimate 25% of the total budget. In reality, it is less than 1%. This sobering statistic underscores a huge disconnect between what the US public thinks is spent on foreign aid – which includes development and other forms of aid – and the actual amount.

U.S. aid cuts could be “diplomatic suicide’’ (Andres Oppenheimer, Miami Herald)

Congressional sources tell me that Republicans would cut foreign aid programs worldwide by between 10 percent and 30 percent. The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a pro-foreign aid group in Washington D.C., estimates that the Republican proposal would cut the International Affairs Budget — which funds everything from State Department salaries to AIDS vaccines in Africa — by more than 13 percent, a figure it says would be “devastating.’’

Clashing Views, Global Consequences (Anne C. Richard, the Will and the Wallet)

The president submits his FY2012 budget blueprint to Capitol Hill at a time when the Executive Branch and Congress are expressing clashing viewpoints on budgets, staffing levels and future directions of US diplomacy and foreign aid.  The good news: the departments and agencies that run these programs are better prepared than ever before to justify their budgets.  The bad news: that may not matter.

Politics/Foreign Policy

U.S. says cutting aid threatens Afghanistan fight (Missy Ryan, Reuters)

Rajiv Shah, a doctor and administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), said pledges from some leading lawmakers to cut funding for his agency, a prime target in Republican belt-tightening plans, would undermine the U.S. fight in Afghanistan and ultimately jeopardize U.S. security.

The hard choices: President Obama’s 2012 budget (David Rogers, Politico)

For foreign aid, an estimated $55 billion is requested for the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and related foreign aid programs, setting up what could be a brutal fight with Republicans over funding. The House CR cuts comparable accounts to about $44.9 billion, or $10 billion less for this year, and the administration is fearful that this will severely impair the State Department’s role in postwar Iraq, as well as in administering assistance programs important to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

House GOP Releases CR With $100 Billion in Cuts (Humberto Sanchez, National Journal)

“The reductions made to my section of the bill are a good start,” Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, who is chairwoman of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, said in a release. “As long as I am chairwoman of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, I will ensure that our foreign aid is not used as a stimulus bill for foreign countries. This bill is about our national security, and the funding levels reflect that.”

Egypt needs more U.S. aid, not less (Shoshana Bryen, Politico)

Even before the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, there were voices – including the former Israeli Defense Force chief of staff, Shaul Mofaz – calling for the United States to suspend military aid to Egypt. With the power in Cairo now passed to the Armed Forces Supreme Council, the question of whether or how to leverage U.S. aid rises again.