Three More Weeks

March 14, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

This week, the House and Senate are expected to pass a three-week extension of the current Continuing Resolution that cuts a total of $6 billion in discretionary spending, extending it to April 8. The extension cuts $17 million from the International Affairs Budget, all from the International Fund for Ireland. As the world continues to watch the damage wrought by natural disaster in Japan, the United States has offered our ally all necessary humanitarian assistance. Also, in The Hill today, Ambassador Mark Green writes about reforms at USAID, saying International Affairs programs are “strongly in our interest” and that “Drastic cuts to the International Affairs Budget, as some have proposed, would cut reform off at the knees, and tie us down to the old way of doing business.”

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

A fresh look for international engagement (Mark Green, The Hill)

As a proud fiscal conservative in the House of Representatives, I was scrupulous about every single dollar of taxpayer money that was spent. As Ambassador to Tanzania, I saw first-hand the critical importance of American engagement in the world today, and the tangible effect it has on our national security and economic growth here at home.

Libya’s conflict and national security (Eric P. Schwartz and Nancy Lindborg, the Washington Post)

That we can conduct such a swift and effective humanitarian response is no accident. The existence of a system of international and nongovernmental organizations capable of deploying quickly and channeling contributions from a wide array of donors into coherent and efficient lifesaving activities is a direct result of concerted U.S. efforts to build and sustain this important humanitarian architecture. Through consistent support and deep engagement, the United States has been instrumental in developing this system and strengthening the organizations that comprise it.

Crowley resigns over Manning remarks (Josh Rogin, the Cable)

State Department Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley resigned on Sunday afternoon, only two days after he was reported to have called the treatment of alleged WikiLeaks source Private Bradley Manning “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid.” Crowley stood by those remarks in his resignation statement on Sunday afternoon.

Smart Power

The little bit the United States spends on foreign aid is well worth it (Conor Williams, Kalamazoo Gazette)

Question: Which specific government spending does Microsoft founder Bill Gates believe is “uniquely effective amongst all the other kinds of spending our government does?” Answer: Federal spending on “International Affairs”—which encompasses the State Department, USAID, and most other foreign assistance efforts.

Helping Japan Is an Easy Call in California (Larry Geston, NBC)

The massive earthquake and devastating tsunami in Japan hit home in California, and we  aren’t just talking about the damage in the harbor in Santa Cruz. There are deep historical ties that run deep between Japan and California. Japanese began coming to the U.S. more than one hundred years ago, with most first settling in California.

Politics/Foreign Policy

FY12 State Department Funding Request Cannot Be Fulfilled, House Foreign Ops Committee Chair Says (Kaiser Health News)

It “will not be possible” to meet the funding request for the State Department in President Barack Obama’s FY12 budget proposal, Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), chair of the House State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee, said at a hearing on Thursday, CQ reports.

Why I’m hopeful about the Middle East uprisings (Natan Sharansky, the Washington Post)

The point of linkage is the massive foreign aid the free world has committed to these lands. By remaining generous, by mobilizing additional donors from oil-rich Arab nations, and by insisting on clear and enforceable conditions, we can help forge the building blocks of a free society: a free press, freedom of religion, the rule of law and civil-society reform. Entrepreneurs can be recruited to address the dire housing conditions in Egypt and elsewhere. International human rights organizations can prove their bona fides by working with local reformers, including trade unions and student and women’s groups. Associations like those nurtured by the Internet project Cyberdissidents can be openly strengthened.

Japan earthquake: Aid flows in from across the world (Liz Ford, the Guardian)

Ninety-one countries and nine international organisations have so far offered to assist with relief efforts from last Friday’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the government confirmed on Monday. The number of countries pledging support increased over the weekend as the devastation wrought by the disaster became apparent. Fifty countries offered assistance the day the earthquake struck.

US Delivers Aid in Disaster-Stricken Japan (VOA)

The U.S. military is mobilizing humanitarian relief efforts in Japan, after the government there requested foreign assistance to help those in need following the devastating earthquake and tsunami.