December 16, 2008

Record Bipartisan Members of Congress Support Robust International Affairs Budget

December 16, 2008

U.S. Global Leadership Campaign Praises Congressional Letters to President-elect Obama in Support of Greater Investments in Diplomacy and Development

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, a historic record-breaking 217 Members of Congress – 51 Senators and 166 Representatives – pledged their support for a robust U.S. International Affairs Budget as the incoming Obama Administration begins to prepare its FY 2010 Federal Budget request. In letters to the President-elect, Members of the Senate and the House expressed strong bipartisan support for America’s diplomatic, development and humanitarian assistance programs, a fundamental pillar of our national security and foreign policy.

“This historic level of support sends a strong, bipartisan message that Congress understands the importance of strengthening diplomacy and development to effectively address the global challenges of the 21st century – from failed and fragile states, to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, poverty, and humanitarian crises – as essential to protecting America’s national security, promoting global economic prosperity, and demonstrating our humanitarian values,” stated Nancy Lindborg, Co-President of the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign.

President-elect Obama has presented bold, far-reaching proposals for elevating diplomacy and development, including doubling U.S. foreign assistance, as part of his broader national security strategy. This historic letter sends a significant statement of support for America’s non-military tools of global engagement and includes a broad cross section of Congress, including a record 32 Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. House supporters include 10 full Committee chairs, a majority of the Congressional Black, Hispanic and Asian Pacific American Caucuses, and the Blue Dogs. The Senate majority includes 13 full Committee chairs.

“In light of the global economic uncertainty, it’s more important than ever for the United States to invest in programs that promote economic growth at home and abroad, while enhancing our national security,” said Bill Lane, Co-President of the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign. “Even though the International Affairs Budget is only 1.2 percent of the entire Federal Budget, the programs and policies it supports generate billions of dollars in exports in every sector of our economy and hundreds of thousands of jobs across the nation.”

In the Senate, the letter was championed by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), with a majority of Senators signing the letter. In the House, Representatives Howard Berman (D-Calif.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Ben Chandler (D-Ky.), Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), Vic Snyder (D-Ark.), Joseph Knollenberg (R-Mich.), Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), and David Reichert (R-Wash.) led the effort to garner 166 Democratic and Republican supporters.

“Today’s global challenges require that we use every tool at our disposal to achieve national security and foreign policy goals.” Senator Dianne Feinstein said. “U.S. foreign assistance programs help to increase stability and security abroad by targeting the root causes of terrorism and providing relief to the millions of victims of poverty, starvation, and illiteracy in the developing world.”

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other national security and foreign policy experts, and over 50 three- and four-star retired military leaders have strongly endorsed greater investments in our civilian institutions of diplomacy and development, which have been undermanned and underfunded, as the first line of our national defense and to address the challenges and opportunities our nation faces around the world.

When the 111th Congress takes office in January, it still must consider the $38.2 billion FY09 International Affairs Budget, representing an 11 percent increase over present spending. Despite this increase, the International Affairs Budget is a mere 1.2 percent of the entire Federal Budget and remains 11 percent less in real terms than at the height of the Cold War.

Click here for the List of Congressional Signatories

USGLC Executive Director Liz Schrayer, Co-President Bill Lane and NGO Spokesperson JoDee Winterhof are available for comment and interviews on these related topics:

  • Importance of the International Affairs Budget to U.S. national security
  • The Administration’s and Congress’ record of support for the International Affairs Budget
  • Foreign policy challenges facing the next Administration and the role of non-military tools – such as foreign assistance and diplomacy – in tackling those challenges.

USGLC Spokespeople: Liz Schrayer is one of the founders and overall director and strategist of the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign, which has advocated for a strengthened International Affairs Budget for the past 11 years. She also serves as the Executive Director for its sister organization, the Center for U.S. Global Engagement.

Bill Lane is Co-President of the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign. He serves as Washington Director for Government Affairs for Caterpillar, representing the company on trade policy and other international affairs.

JoDee Winterhof is a Member of the 2009 Board of Directors of the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign and the Vice President for Policy and Advocacy of CARE, one of the world’s largest private international humanitarian organizations committed to fighting global poverty.

# # #

About the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign

The U.S. Global Leadership Campaign (USGLC) is a broad-based, nationwide coalition of businesses, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community leaders that advocates for a strong U.S. International Affairs Budget. Members of the USGLC – a vibrant, influential network of 400 organizations and thousands of individuals – engage policymakers in the nation’s capital and educate the public around the country to build support for these essential programs.

The International Affairs Budget provides America with the fundamental tools to meet the global challenges of the 21st century and is critical to protecting our national security, building economic prosperity and strengthening humanitarian values. The International Affairs Budget provides the United States with invaluable opportunities to generate much needed allies, partners and friends. For additional information, visit