Tonight’s the Night

April 8, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

All eyes are on the Hill, where budget negotiators are furiously working towards a last minute deal before the deadline for government shutdown at midnight. Yesterday, House Republicans passed a temporary Continuing Resolution (CR) to buy more time for negotiations, but the President has said he would veto it, blocking the path forward for this legislation. The new CR would reduce current International Affairs Budget funding by an additional $897 million, plus $185 million rescissions of prior year appropriations, resulting in nearly $1.1 billion in cuts to these critical programs. Stay tuned to the USGLC website today for the latest budget news. Also, be sure to check out highlights from Senator Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) recent speech at Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced and International Studies (SAIS).

Must Reads

Who’s In the News

Rajiv Shah Honored For Malaria Fight Contribution (Eliza Villarino, DEVEX)

U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah received Thursday (April 7) the 2011 Malaria Action Award from the Malaria Policy Center for his “tremendous leadership” of the agency and the President’s Malaria Initiative.

The real-world effects of budget cuts (Michael Gerson, the Washington Post)

So far in the budget debate, the Obama administration has drawn few bright lines, preferring to blur distinctions with concessions. But last week, a neon line was drawn by an unlikely administration official. Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, possesses the mildest of manners.

Despite Cash Crunch, America Needs to Remain a Leader (Glenn Nye, GMF Experts Blog)

It’s easy to get lost in America’s big budget debate.  There is so much talk of impending shutdowns and continuing resolutions, debt reduction and tax reform, revenues and spending cuts. And both U.S. President Barack Obama and the House Republicans have now presented proposals for the 2012 budget while the debate over the 2011 budget still rages on. It can get confusing, but it is all part of a vital conversation Americans have to have on how to get their fiscal house in order following a deep recession.  What should not be lost amid all the rhetoric, however, is a serious look at America’s desired role in the world and what resources will be required to ensure that the United States can play that role.

Smart Power

Aid is certain to be a casualty of US federal budget cuts (Claire Provost, the Guardian)

According to the US Global Leadership Coalition, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief programs would be cut down by 41%, food security and food aid programs would be slashed by 30% and multilateral contributions would drop by 40%, under budget proposals put forward by congressional Republicans.

Foreign aid is not a waste of money (Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Telegraph)

As public spending cuts have an impact across European and North American countries, the debate over the value of overseas aid is reaching new levels of intensity, no more so than in the United Kingdom where the Coalition has pledged to ring fence and increase the aid budget to reach 0.7 per cent of its Gross National Income from 2013.

Think Globally, Act Locally: Foreign Aid in Peril (Rick Cohen, the Nonprofit Quarterly)

With a government shutdown imminent, likely to be averted only if Republicans and Democrats agree on billions of dollars of cuts to the FY2011 budget, the U.S. commitment to development aid is precarious.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Obama, Colombian president formally agree to trade pact (Kevin Bogardus, the Hill)

President Obama met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the White House on Thursday to formally announce a trade deal between the two countries. Expected to be sent to Congress soon for approval, the Colombia deal will help achieve the president’s goal, announced in his last State of the Union address, of doubling U.S. exports within five years.

US freezes Yemen aid package (the Telegraph)

Unnamed US officials were reported as saying that the latest package, potentially worth over $1 billion (more than £600 million), was an attempt to get floundering US-Yemen counterterrorism co-operation back on track.

Freshman GOP senators support aid for Israel (Politico)

Even as they push for huge spending cuts, 11 freshman GOP senators say the U.S. must continue to provide foreign aid to its strongest ally in the Middle East: Israel. The senators delivered a letter Wednesday to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), reaffirming their support for security assistance for Israel. The U.S. spends more than $3 billion a year to help keep the nation safe.

Meanwhile, Back in Iraq… (Nathan Hodge, WSJ)

Washington may be on the countdown to shutdown, but back in Iraq –remember Iraq?–Secretary of Defense Robert Gates‘s farewell tour continues. After all, the war here is not over. Over 47,000 U.S. troops remain on the ground, and the U.S. mission in Iraq, to quote a marvelously phrased memorandum sent yesterday by Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn, is not “‘excepted’ from cessation.”