December 15, 2009

Record-Breaking 247 Members of Congress Call for Robust International Affairs Budget

Demonstrates Bipartisan Commitment to Elevating Development and Diplomacy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) congratulates the record-setting 247 Members of Congress (58 Senators and 189 Representatives) who signed bipartisan letters calling on President Obama to request a robust International Affairs Budget in his FY11 Budget submission. The signatories represent Members from across the political spectrum—from Blue Dog Democrats to Freshmen Republicans, from the Congressional Black, Hispanic, and Progressive Caucuses to the Republican Study Committee.

“The unprecedented number of Senators and Representatives who signed this important letter is a testament to the bipartisan consensus that exists around the need for greater investments in the International Affairs Budget,” said USGLC Executive Director Liz Schrayer. “This is an important step towards putting development and diplomacy at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy, and we look forward to working with the Administration and Congress in making this a reality.”

The letter was sponsored in the Senate by five Democrats and five Republicans, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Kerry (D-MA), Ranking Member Lugar (R-IN), Senator Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Isakson (R-GA).  In the House, six Democrats and six Republicans sponsored the letter, including House Foreign Relations Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA), Representative Mark Kirk (R-IL), House Armed Services Committee Chair Ike Skelton (D-MO), and Representative Aaron Schock (R-IL).  The House letter says, “Even with small increases in recent years supported by both Democratic and Republican Administrations and Congresses, the International Affairs Budget totals less than 1.5% of the federal budget — a level that is inadequate to respond to the challenges of the 21st century.”

“Given the many international challenges our nation faces, it’s imperative that we reinvigorate our civilian-led, smart power tools of development and diplomacy,” said Chairman Kerry (D-MA).  “Whether it’s building schools to educate a new generation of girls and boys in Afghanistan or supporting efforts to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS from mother to child in Rwanda, the U.S. International Affairs Budget demonstrates the highest ideals of America, helps to keep our nation safe, and enhances the global economy.”

“Sufficient commitment to diplomacy and development are critical to U.S. national security,” said U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Dick Lugar (R-IN). “We will continue our strong support of adequate resources.”

“Diplomacy and development are two essential elements of our national security,” said Chairman Berman (D-CA). “But for far too long our civilian agencies, including the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development, have been understaffed and overstretched. The health, prosperity, freedom and security of the American people require a sustained, substantial investment in fostering international cooperation, encouraging responsible conduct by other countries and building the capacity of other nations to meet the needs of their people.”

“This is about investing in the lives of people around the world,” said Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL).  “The positive impact we can make through an enhanced International Affairs Budget will only pay greater dividends as we create a better world and also a better view of our country around the world.”

The International Affairs Budget promotes a better, safer America and world by strengthening our national security, building economic prosperity, and demonstrating our moral and humanitarian values. Programs funded by the International Affairs Budget stabilize fragile states, combat terrorism and deter threats before they reach America’s shores. The Administration has classified the International Affairs Budget as part of the “security fund” equal in importance to Defense and Homeland Security. However, it currently represents only 6.8% of the national security budget.

Visit the USGLC website for a list of Members who signed the letters for their respective houses, and to view both the Senate and House letters.

The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition ( 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.

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