February 9, 2016

International Affairs Budget Proposal Slightly Down: Growing Concern Over U.S. Ability to Keep Pace with Global Challenges

WASHINGTON – The $54.1 billion for international affairs in the Administration’s just released budget proposal, while much improved from the draconian cuts in sequestration, may not be keeping pace with today’s increasing global challenges, says the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.

In a full report just issued on the President’s budget request, the USGLC expressed concern on whether U.S. development and diplomacy programs will be able to meet the new and growing crises across the globe after suffering a 12 percent cut since FY2010.


“All eyes may be on New Hampshire today, but this budget proposal is the budget that the next president will inherit the first year in office to confront all of the threats we face overseas,” said Liz Schrayer, President and CEO of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. “From ISIS and the Syrian refugee crisis to Russia and the Zika virus – what strikes me is the disconnect between the funding levels over the years and our nation’s ability to keep pace with the growing global crises. We urge Congress to support no less than the Administration’s request this year.”

The FY17 budget proposal is a byproduct of the broader two-year budget deal reached by Congress and the Administration late last year. This deal spared international affairs programs from dangerous cuts from sequestration in FY16.  However, in FY17 – and in keeping with the deal – the Administration’s proposal for overall discretionary spending in FY17 is capped by the agreement. Reflecting this constrained budget, the request includes $54.1 billion total for the International Affairs Budget, approximately $400 million (1%) below this year’s level.

“With the world in crisis, now is not the time to shortchange the International Affairs Budget,” said General Anthony Zinni, USMC (Ret.), the former Commander in Chief of U.S. Central Command. “Alongside our military, these critical programs help create stable societies overseas and reduce the conditions that can lead to unrest – and require us to put boots on the ground. That’s why we have to bolster our foreign assistance and deploy all the tools of American influence and power.”

Bill Lane, Chair Emeritus of the USGLC and a 40-year veteran of Caterpillar, said, “Business often looks at threats on the horizon that could derail our future. One of the biggest is if the U.S. were to turn inward. Retreating from pro-engagement policies are signs of turning inward. That’s one of the reasons why we believe cuts in the International Affairs Budget are so concerning. This budget is a strategic investment in both development and diplomacy that combats poverty and creates new export markets for American companies.”

The total funding for International Affairs includes $39.3 billion in base funding, which funds long-term programs that make up the core of our development and diplomacy programs overseas. Since FY10, this portion of the International Affairs Budget has shrunk by 30%.

In addition, a temporary, wartime-related funding stream known as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) includes $14.9 billion funding for emergencies and temporary programs, such as those to combat ISIS or respond to humanitarian disasters. In the last six years, the OCO portion of the budget has grown from 9 to 28 percent and now includes a significant number of programs that have historically been funded through the base budget including, funding for Jordan.

In response to the emerging concern over the Zika virus, the Administration announced earlier this week that it would request $1.8 billion to respond to the growing health crisis, which includes $376 million for the State Department and USAID. This is not part of the overall International Affairs request but rather part of a larger government-wide effort to tackle the virus both here at home and abroad.

With a mere one percent of the entire U.S. federal budget, the International Affairs Budget supports all of America’s civilian tools of development and diplomacy to strengthen our national security, build economic prosperity, and demonstrate our nation’s humanitarian values around the world.

For the full USGLC report and breakdown of the International Affairs Budget, visit http://usglc.org/iab2017.

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, military, and community leaders in all 50 states who support strategic investments to elevate development and diplomacy alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world.