Putting FY11 to Bed

April 18, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

Last week Congress completed work on FY11 funding, as the compromise spending agreement reached by White House and Congressional negotiators was passed by both the House and the Senate and signed into law. The FY11 spending agreement (H.R. 1473) cuts $38.5 billion in discretionary spending and provides $50.1 billion for the International Affairs Budget, an 11.4% cut from FY10 levels and 14.8% below the President’s FY11 request. USGLC released an analysis of the International Affairs Budget provisions in the final agreement.  Also last week, the House passed an FY12 Budget Resolution that cuts the International Affairs Budget 18% from the newly adopted FY11 funding level and 27% from FY10 levels.  Congress is on a two-week recess and will return for legislative work on May 2.

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

U.S. foreign aid is not a luxury but a critical investment in global stability (Adam Smith, Jim McDermott and Bill Clapp, the Seattle Times)

Foreign aid is far from wasteful spending: Dollars spent abroad help maintain America’s economic and political leadership, as well as support our vital national-security interests. These programs have amplified benefits for global stability through contributions to poverty alleviation, health and disease prevention, and infrastructure-building worldwide.

Confirmed: Joseph Torsella as US Envoy for UN Reform (Eliza Villarino, DEVEX)

Ambassador Susan Rice, the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, said in an April 15 statement: “The United States is working urgently and determinedly toward a leaner and more effective United Nations that can more fully realize its founding values, prevent conflict, help halt nuclear proliferation, isolate human rights abusers, promote democracy, and provide lifesaving food, medicine, and shelter. As Ambassador, Joe will head a team that, under the able leadership of acting Ambassador Joe Melrose, has continually pushed for much-needed reforms – from a more disciplined UN budget and a more mobile, meritocratic UN civilian workforce to a culture of greater transparency and accountability.”

Smart Power

Valuable foreign aid (Jerry Yen, The News & Observer)

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus have each stated that foreign aid is key to national security. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce argues that it is critical to U.S. economic engagement in the world. Despite these three great reasons to support robust foreign assistance funding, Rep. Paul Ryan proposes to cut the account by 30 percent just for 2012 and continue chipping away at it until 2016.

Aid to Cambodia rarely reaches the people it’s meant to help (Joel Brinkley, the Washington Post)

Representatives of more than 3,000 governments and donor organizations are meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Wednesday. If past experience is indicative, they will pledge to provide hundreds of millions in aid. Most of these donors should simply stay home.

Politics/Foreign Policy

UN, Gadhafi government reach deal to provide humanitarian aid to Libya (AP via the Washington Post)

Moammar Gadhafi’s government has promised the U.N. access to the besieged rebel city of Misrata, a senior U.N. official said Monday, following weeks of heavy shelling of the city by Libyan government forces. Such access is part of an agreement, reached Sunday, to enable the U.N. to deliver humanitarian aid in western areas of Libya under Gadhafi’s control. The U.N. has already set up an aid operation in rebel-run eastern Libya.

America’s Partnerships With the Arab People (Raghida Dergham, the Huffington Post)

The Obama administration has drafted the features of its new strategic policy resulting from the “Arab Spring” with an effacing pencil as it is still at the stage of reacting and responding to events. There is not yet what would be called a “blueprint” for a strategic framework for broad American policy towards the Middle East, as if ink would tie down the hands of President Barack Obama at a time when he needs flexibility for electoral reasons.

Why failed states shouldn’t be our biggest national security fear (Stewart Patrick, the Washington Post)

In truth, while failed states may be worthy of America’s attention on humanitarian and development grounds, most of them are irrelevant to U.S. national security. The risks they pose are mainly to their own inhabitants. Sweeping claims to the contrary are not only inaccurate but distracting and unhelpful, providing little guidance to policymakers seeking to prioritize scarce attention and resources.

Reid leading Senate delegation on weeklong trip through China (Erika Niedowski, the Hill)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) arrived in Hong Kong on Monday for a weeklong trip through China that will touch on issues ranging from “clean” energy and currency to human rights and trade. Reid is leading a 10-member delegation that includes Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

Paul wants to cut military spending (Politico)

Pentagon spending must be on the chopping block in order to reach a bipartisan deal to rein in the national debt, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Sunday. Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Paul rejected calls by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and other conservatives to keep tax increases on the table. But the freshman senator, a tea party favorite who has repeatedly said he won’t compromise on his principles, said that conservatives to need to budge on military spending.