State-Foreign Op’s Bill Remains in Flux

November 15, 2011 By Mac Stoddard

Whether the Senate will take up the FY12 State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill later today is still in flux, pending negotiations among Senate leaders over some Senators’ objections to proceeding to debate on that measure.  A decision is expected this afternoon.  Meanwhile, the final conference report on the first FY12 minibus package, including the Agriculture bill, was released today.  The House-Senate agreement provides a total $1.65 billion for international food aid programs – $1.466 billion for Food for Peace/P.L. 480 and $184 million for McGovern-Dole Food for Education – representing a 3% cut from FY11 levels but a significant improvement over the 28% cut approved by the House this summer.

Must Reads

USGLC in the News

5 former secretaries of State warn against deep cuts to foreign aid spending (Associated Press, Washington Post)

Five former secretaries of State — Republicans and a Democrat — are warning Congress against deep cuts in foreign aid.  In a letter circulated Monday by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, the former secretaries said that international spending advances U.S. interests overseas, tackles the causes of conflict and extremism, and shows America’s global leadership.  The letter comes as the Senate this week considers a $53.3 billion spending bill for the State Department and foreign operations for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Citing the growing U.S. deficit, lawmakers are expected to offer amendments to cut foreign aid.

Former secretaries sound alarm to Congress on foreign aid cuts (Jamie Crawford, CNN Security Clearance)

With Congress aiming for trillions of dollars in budget cuts, former secretaries of state from Republican and Democratic administrations are asking lawmakers to leave international aid, a prime target for slicing, intact.  “We recognize the gravity of America’s fiscal situation and that all programs must contribute their fair share to reducing our nation’s debt,” five former secretaries wrote in a letter to Congress. “Yet, the International Affairs Budget – only 1.4% of the federal budget – already received deep and disproportionate cuts this year.”

Powell and Condi disagree with GOP candidates on foreign aid (Josh Rogin, The Cable)

Five former secretaries of state, including four Republicans, wrote to Congress today to defend State Department and foreign aid funding, just as the GOP presidential candidates assailed those programs.  As former Secretaries of State from both Democratic and Republican administrations, we urge you to support a strong and effective International Affairs Budget.  We believe these programs are critical to America’s global leadership and represent strategic investments in our nation’s security and prosperity,” wrote former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and George Shultz, in a letter today, organized by the U.S.

Smart Power

America’s veterans support smart foreign aid policies (Mark Lucas, Des Moines Register)

A lot of Republican presidential candidates are making the rounds in Iowa vying for a top spot in the upcoming caucuses. Many of them will take the opportunity to thank veterans and current members of the military for their personal sacrifice and commitment to protecting Americans. These sentiments are always important and appreciated.  It is my hope they will also take this opportunity to speak to Iowans about other things of real importance to those of us who serve or have served…Many have warned of the effect that potential cuts in defense spending would have on our national security, but I would like to talk about a critical part of America’s national security strategy that is under even greater threat: effective global health and development programs.

Politics/Foreign Policy

GOP Candidates Take Aim at Foreign Aid (Amy Bingham, ABC News)

Foreign aid may account for a mere 1 percent of the federal budget, but talk of eliminating it consumed a much higher percentage of the most recent GOP presidential primary debate…All foreign assistance, which includes everything from HIV/AIDS prevention to Haiti earthquake assistance to Afghan military training, accounted for about 1 percent of the federal budget in 2010.  To put that in perspective, the interest on America’s debt accounted for about 5 percent and Medicare made up about 13 percent of the total $3.4 trillion budget.

Lawmakers scrutinize US foreign aid to China (Matthew Pennington, Associated Press)

Lawmakers on Tuesday will scrutinize a portion of the U.S. budget that’s tiny but touches a raw nerve: development aid to China, America’s biggest foreign creditor.  The House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia is examining $4 million in proposed assistance, mostly for promoting clean energy technology. The committee has put that aid on hold as it demands explanations from the U.S. Agency for International Development of how the funds would be used.

Santorum: GOP candidates ‘pandering’ on foreign aid (Geneva Sands-Sadowitz, The Hill)

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum defended the use of foreign aid on Monday, saying it benefits the United States by helping prevent the need for military action and increased spending.  “They’re pandering to an anti-foreign aid element out there,” Santorum said of the GOP candidates criticizing foreign aid during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Monday.

With Deadline Looming, (Tiny) Signs of Progress for Supercommittee (Jay Newton-Small, Time Swampland)

Just when everyone had written off Congress as too dysfunctional to produce a bipartisan agreement on deficit reduction, the supercommittee is actually showing a pulse.  Up until this week there was nary a wonk, flack or politico in Washington who thought the supercommittee would succeed. But late Monday, nine days before the Thanksgiving deadline, negotiators seemed to be coming off their hard-line positions.