July 27, 2011

Disproportionate Cut to International Affairs Puts National, Economic Security At Risk

20% Cut in Just Two Years Ignores Call from Military and Business Leaders

Washington, DC —The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) expressed great concern for the deep and disproportionate cuts to the International Affairs Budget in the House Appropriations Subcommittee’s Fiscal Year 2012 markup today.  The subcommittee’s $47.2 billion mark makes dramatic reductions in non-war related programs – 20 percent below FY 2010 levels.

State Department and USAID operations, along with multilateral and development assistance, bear the brunt of the budget cuts, with reductions in these areas ranging between 16% and 35% below current (FY11) levels.  Other programs also face substantial reductions from current levels, including Global Health and Feed the Future. These cuts, combined with dramatic reductions made earlier this year, result in a deeply disproportionate cut to America’s development and diplomacy capabilities.

“Too often, Washington voices have called reductions in increased spending a cut, but this mark represents a very real 20% cut in our nation’s ability to respond to crises throughout the world,” said former Congressman and Ambassador Mark Green.  “Our top military leaders are adamant that International Affairs programs are a critical to our national security.  Our top business leaders are adamant that these programs are critical to our economic future. I’ve seen firsthand how these programs work beyond the frontline states and these cuts will seriously restrict our ability to keep Americans safe and advance our economic interests.” Green pointed to an irony in some of the cuts, noting “long overdue bipartisan reforms are beginning, and these cuts could slow these important efforts.”

“While everyone agrees we need to get our fiscal house in order, we must protect our national and economic security in the process,” said USGLC Chairman and former Congressman Dan Glickman.  “As the Chamber of Commerce often points out, 95% of the world consumers live outside of the U.S. and our small investment in the International Affairs Budget is essential to growing our economy here at home.”

On Monday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Subcommittee Chair Kay Granger (R-TX) and Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY), saying “Although it represents less than 1.5% of the total federal budget, the International Affairs budget is critical to creating jobs, saving lives, protecting U.S. diplomats and embassies abroad, and fighting terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.”

Last month, over 50 of the country’s top business leaders sent a letter to Members of Congress urging them to support a strong and effective International Affairs Budget. Signed by leaders representing a diverse range of businesses including Boeing, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Google, Microsoft, PepsiCo and Walmart, the letter to Congress also calls the International Affairs Budget “America’s ‘toolbox’ for trade” and states “that international development and diplomacy programs play a vital role in creating American jobs and spurring U.S. economic growth.”

In March, 70 retired 3 and 4-star Admirals and Generals asked Congress to support a strong and effective International Affairs Budget, saying, “Development and diplomacy keep us safer by addressing threats in the most dangerous corners of the world and by preventing conflicts before they occur.”

The International Affairs Budget is just over one percent of federal spending, yet it is a strategic, cost-effective investment in America’s global leadership and vital to our national and economic security.  These programs help tackle the root causes of conflict and extremism, respond to humanitarian crises, and build new markets for U.S. goods and services.

The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (www.usglc.org) is a broad-based influential network of 400 businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic and community leaders in all 50 states who support a smart power approach of elevating development and diplomacy alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world.