May 21, 2008

Budget Conferees Approve $38.3 billion for International Affairs Budget; Senate Begins Debate on War Supplemental

On Tuesday, May 20, Budget Conferees approved $38.3 billion in discretionary budget authority for the FY09 International Affairs Budget.  As expected, the committee adopted the lower House-passed level of $38.3 billion. The recommended funding level is:

  • $1.5 billion below the $39.8 billion level approved by the Senate and requested by the Administration;
  • $4 billion or 11.6 percent above the FY08 base enacted level.

While non-binding, the FY09 Budget Resolution spending targets can provide a marker as the Appropriations Committees begin to determine the binding 302(b) allocations. Overall, the Conferees approved $1.011 trillion in total FY09 discretionary spending, representing a $20 billion increase over the Administration’s request of $991.6 billion.

The Senate began debate on its version of the FY08 and FY09 war supplemental. Like the House, the Senate bill includes $9.9 billion in funding for the International Affairs Budget. The Senate bill is more than $10 billion above the Administration’s request level and the level approved by the House.  Although the strategy for passage of the Supplemental bill in the Senate remains in flux, it is clear from the debate that the $9.9 billion International Affairs portion of the bill is not controversial. The main drivers of the debate include domestic spending increases in G.I. education benefits, unemployment compensation and several other provisions adopted during committee mark-up.  Also at issue is the $168.9 billion in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as war policy provisions.