February 15, 2019

Congress Finalizes FY19 Spending: Small Increase for International Affairs Budget Holds the Line At Critical Moment for U.S. Global Leadership

Capping off months of tense negotiations between the White House and Congressional leaders – including a standoff over border security funding that resulted in a historic 35-day partial government shutdown – Congress passed a compromise spending package for FY19 that will keep the government open through September 30, 2019. The measure passed the Senate by a vote of 83-16, the House by a vote of 300-128, and the President is expected to sign it into law today.

The package combines the seven remaining FY19 spending bills that Congress was unable to complete before the end of the last fiscal year – including the State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS), Agriculture, and Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bills, which fund the International Affairs Budget. As previously noted, while Members of Congress worked to finalize the Homeland Security Appropriations bill both the House and Senate released the text of the other six appropriations bills – which reflect bipartisan agreements reached late last year – several weeks ago.

Reflecting the strong bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for America’s global engagement, the FY19 International Affairs Budget is funded at $56.1 billion – a slight increase of $193 million (0.3%) compared to FY18.

International Affairs Budget Snapshot

FY18 Enacted FY19 Request* FY19 Spending Package
Base $43.9 billion $42.2 billion $48.1 billion
OCO $12.0 billion $0 $8.0 billion
Total $55.9 billion $42.2 billion $56.1 billion

*Based on CBO’s re-estimate of the Administration’s request

The USGLC released a statement praising Congress for its steadfast commitment to America’s development and diplomacy programs.

The small increase provided for the International Affairs Budget in FY19 holds the line at a critical moment for America’s leadership around the world. At the same time, it is clear we are not keeping pace with today’s growing global threats. Whether it is responding to the largest number of displaced people in human history, fighting the second largest Ebola outbreak ever, or competing in the world’s fastest growing markets as China expands its footprint, America cannot afford to get left behind.

The USGLC’s detailed analysis of how the International Affairs Budget fared in the final FY19 spending package can be found here.

Next Steps

With FY19 complete, Congress now turns its full attention to the FY20 budget and appropriations process. The Administration’s FY20 budget request – which could be released the week of March 11th – is expected to once again propose dramatic cuts to the International Affairs Budget.

Before Congress can make any final decisions on FY20 spending, Members will need to reach a new bipartisan budget deal to lift the caps on defense and non-defense discretionary spending. Without an agreement to raise these spending caps, defense and non-defense programs would see across-the-board cuts of 11% and 9%, respectively – something Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are eager to avoid.

As mentioned previously, a new budget deal that raises the non-defense discretionary spending cap is critical to ensure sufficient funding for the International Affairs Budget in FY20.