April 25, 2017

Administration Requests New Funding to Counter ISIS – Half for International Affairs, Half for Defense

With growing unrest in the Middle East, the current effort to liberate certain Iraqi cities, and the historic refugee crisis, last week the Administration requested an additional $11.6 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account for FY17 – $5.8 billion for the International Affairs Budget and $5.8 billion for the Department of Defense. The funding is to help counter ISIS in the Middle East and Africa, to improve diplomatic and embassy security, to provide additional assistance for the significant humanitarian needs, and to address the dramatically growing needs in these regions.

The request for the International Affairs Budget includes:

  • State Department Security and Operations: The request includes $1.8 billion for improved State Department security, including embassy and diplomatic security.
  • Countering ISIS: The Administration is seeking $2.5 billion, primarily in the form of economic support funds (ESF). This amount also includes a $1 billion “Relief and Recovery Fund,” which would allow spending to be directed to various security and non-security accounts depending on the specific needs identified.
  • Humanitarian Assistance: The request asks for $1.2 billion for humanitarian assistance, including $260 million for aid to refugees and $953 million for disaster aid.
  • Other Programs: The remaining $321 million in the request is divided between counter extremism programs ($303 million) and USAID operating expenses ($18 million).

The Administration originally requested $14.9 billion in OCO funds for the FY17 International Affairs Budget. With this additional $5.8 billion request, the total request rises to roughly $20.7 billion, bringing the share of the International Affairs Budget that would be funded through OCO to about 35%. USGLC released a statement strongly supporting the request for additional funding.

Next Steps and the Lame Duck

As we reported earlier, Congress agreed to a continuing resolution (CR) to extend current funding levels until December 9th, giving lawmakers about three legislative weeks to pass another spending package. It is unclear at this point how Congress will move forward, but rumors abound that lawmakers could pass a short-term spending package that includes at least some of this additional request in December, leaving final FY17 spending decisions to the new Congress and Administration. Alternatively, lawmakers could decide to finalize spending this year with an omnibus or series of “minibuses.”

With lawmakers and newly elected Members of Congress returning to Washington this week, Republicans and Democrats will begin organizing themselves for the 115th Congress. Given the results of the election, very little legislation is expected to pass during the lame duck. In addition to the spending bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a water resources bill, and legislation focused on medical research are likely the only big tickets items on the agenda.