Senate Numbers Are In

September 8, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

The Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday approved its 302(b) allocations for FY12, providing a total of $53.34 billion for State-Foreign Operations: $44.64 billion for non-war related programs and $8.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations programs.  This is $5 billion higher than the House allocation for non-war programs and essentially flat compared to current funding.  For international food aid programs, the Senate provides $1.75 billion compared to $1.23 billion in the House.  Also yesterday the chairs of USGLC’s National Security Advisory Council, Admiral Jim Loy, USCG (Ret.) and General Mike Hagee, USMC (Ret.), wrote a letter to members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction and Appropriations leaders urging them to oppose deep cuts to the International Affairs Budget, saying “U.S. global engagement is one area where military leaders and members of both parties can find common ground and come together to ensure a better, safer world and a more prosperous future.”

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Who’s in the News

China’s Rise Isn’t Our Demise (Joseph R. Biden, Jr., New York Times)

We often focus on Chinese exports to America, but last year American companies exported more than $100 billion worth of goods and services to China, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs here. In fact, our exports to China have been growing much faster than our exports to the rest of the world.

Back to the future (Gregory Adams, Oxfam America)

As the world has changed over the last five decades, the Foreign Assistance Act has been amended in an effort to catch up.  But these changes haven’t always been consistent or logical or even timely.  As we mark the Act’s 50th anniversary, it has become a collection of anachronisms that send U.S. diplomats and development professionals on frequent trips down memory lane.  Fortunately, aid workers have soldiered through the legislative mess.  Foreign aid has reduced the number of children who die before their fifth birthday by four million since 1990, put 33 million more children in the classroom, and increased ten-fold the number of people receiving HIV/AIDS medication – statistics that are lost on those in Congress that seek to cut programs for the global poor.

US envoy Richardson in Cuba to seek Alan Gross release (BBC News)

Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is in Cuba to seek the release of a US contractor whose imprisonment has frozen attempts to improve bilateral ties.  The state department said it supported Mr Richardson’s efforts, but he was travelling in a personal capacity.  Contractor Alan Gross is serving a 15-year jail sentence for bringing illegal satellite equipment into Cuba.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Romney, Perry spar over jobs and social security (Kasie Hunt, Associated Press)

Quick to tangle, Republican presidential rivals Rick Perry and Mitt Romney sparred vigorously over job creation and Social Security Wednesday night in a feisty campaign debate that marked a contentious new turn in the race to pick a 2012 challenger to President Barack Obama.  Far more than in earlier GOP debates this summer, the candidates mixed it up in their first faceoff since Perry entered the race and almost instantly overtook Romney as front-runner in opinion polls. Those two – as well as other contenders on stage – sniped at one another, contradicted allegations and interrupted media questioners to demand opportunities to take each other on.

Somalia’s biggest famine in decades claiming the smallest of victims first (Sudarsan Raghavan, The Washington Post)

The center of the crisis is in southern Somalia. Tens of thousands of people have trekked for hundreds of miles to reach refugee camps in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia. Thousands more have arrived here in Mogadishu, settling down in 188 makeshift settlements around the capital city. They are the fortunate ones. Al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda-linked militia that controls large swaths of southern Somalia, has prevented many people from leaving famine-stricken areas, U.N. officials say.

Arab spring gets only fraction of funds (Camilla Hall and Michael Peel, Financial Times)

Tunisia and Egypt have received only a fraction of funds promised by the international community to support their transition to democracy, according to the two countries’ finance ministers.  In May, western and Arab countries and multilateral agencies said they would provide $20bn to support economic reform in Egypt and Tunisia through 2013. The funds were part of a $40bn package including $10bn of bilateral support from western governments and $10bn from Gulf states.