December 20, 2019

Congress Finalizes FY20 Spending: International Affairs Budget Sees Small Increase as Global Challenges Grow

In a swift conclusion to months of tense negotiations between the White House and Congressional leaders – and just in time for the holidays – this week Congress approved two compromise spending packages for FY20 that will keep the government open through September 30, 2020. The President is expected to sign both measures into law before a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) expires tonight.

The two ‘minibus’ spending packages were unveiled earlier this week and contain all twelve FY20 appropriations bills – including the State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS), Agriculture, and Commerce-Justice-Science bills that fund the International Affairs Budget. The SFOPS and Agriculture bills were included in an eight-bill “domestic priorities and international assistance” package, while the Commerce-Justice-Science bill was part of a four-bill “national security” package.

Rejecting the Administration’s proposed 24% cut to America’s development and diplomacy programs, Congress provided a total of $56.6 billion for the FY20 International Affairs Budget – a small increase of $469 million (1%) compared to the FY19 enacted level.

However, for the first time in recent memory the final funding level for the International Affairs Budget falls short of the levels provided earlier this year by the House and Senate.

International Affairs Budget Snapshot

FY19 Enacted FY20 Request* FY20 House FY20 Senate FY20 Final
Base $48.1 billion $43.3 billion $50.4 billion $48.9 billion $48.6 billion
OCO $8.0 billion $0 $8.0 billion $8.0 billion $8.0 billion
Total $56.1 billion $43.3 billion $58.4 billion $56.9 billion $56.6 billion

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

Whether it is competing with China, fighting the second largest Ebola outbreak ever, or responding to the greatest number of displaced people in human history, it is clear funding for America’s civilian tools is not keeping pace with today’s growing global challenges. This trend stands in stark contrast to historic increases in the defense budget and breaks with a decades-long bipartisan consensus that funding for defense and international affairs ebbs and flows proportionally as a percentage of GDP.

The USGLC is grateful for the broad bipartisan support in Congress for the International Affairs Budget and looks forward to working with Members on both sides of the aisle to provide strong funding for these programs in FY21 and beyond.


Defense & International Affairs Spending as a % of GDP



Increases Compared to FY19 Enacted

  • National Endowment for Democracy: up $120 million (+67%)
  • Inter-American Foundation: up $15 million (+67%)
  • State Capital Investment Fund: up $47 million (+50%)
  • International Organizations and Programs: up $52 million (+15%)
  • African Development Foundation: up $3 million (+10%)

Decreases Compared to FY19 Enacted

  • Economic Support Fund: down $673 million (-18%)
  • International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement: down $107 million (-7%)
  • USAID Capital Investment Fund: down $15 million (-7%)
  • Non-UN Peacekeeping: down $31 million (-6%)
  • UN Peacekeeping: down $25 million (-2%)


Below is an analysis of notable programs and how they fared in the FY20 conferenced package. Of note, Congress funds all five agencies proposed for elimination in the Administration’s FY20 budget request at or above FY19 enacted levels. These agencies include the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), the Asia Foundation, the African Development Foundation, East-West Center, and the Inter-American Foundation.


International Security Assistance: Varied Results

The conferenced package includes a total of $9.01 billion for international security assistance, $139 million (2%) less than the FY19 enacted level. Several programs saw cuts, including International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) by $107 million (7%), Peacekeeping Operations by $31 million (6%), and Foreign Military Financing (FMF) by $35 million (1%). On the other hand, Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR) receive a $31 million (4%) increase and funding for the International Military Education and Training (IMET) account sees a $2 million (2%) boost.

State Operations: Mostly Level Funding

The conferenced package provides $9.13 billion for Diplomatic Programs, $48 million (1%) less than the FY19 enacted level and maintains level funding for Diplomatic and Embassy Security and Embassy Security Construction and Maintenance (ESCM).


Trade and Investment Agencies: New Agency Funded

The conferenced package funds the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) – authorized by the bipartisan BUILD Act – to modernize and expand America’s development finance capabilities. Coming in slightly above the Administration’s request, Congress provides $301 million for the DFC including $119 million for administrative expenses and $150 million for equity financing. This initial appropriation will officially allow the new agency to get up and running.

It also funds the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) at the FY19 enacted levels.

Development and Economic Assistance: Mixed Bag

The conferenced package includes a significant cut to the Economic Support Fund (ESF) for the second year in a row, reducing funding by $673 million compared to the FY19 enacted level. However, this cut is partially offset by increases to Development Assistance (DA) ($400 million), Assistance to Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia (AEECA) ($10 million), and the Democracy Fund ($47 million). For the third year in a row, Congress rejects the Administration’s proposal to consolidate these four accounts into a new State Department-led Economic Support and Development Fund (ESDF).

It also maintains funding for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Peace Corps at FY19 enacted levels.

Development and Economic
FY19 Enacted FY20 Request FY20 Final
ESDF $0 $5.23 billion $0
DA $3.0 billion $0 $3.4 billion
MCC $905 million $800 million $905 million
Peace Corps $411 million $396 million $411 million
USAID OE $1.37 billion $1.28 billion $1.38 billion
ESF $3.72 billion $0 $3.05 billion
AEECA $760 million $0 $770 million
Democracy Fund $227 million $0 $274 million


Humanitarian Assistance: Held Flat

At a time of unprecedented global humanitarian challenges, the conferenced package holds FY20 funding for humanitarian assistance essentially flat at the FY19 enacted level and rejects the Administration’s proposal to consolidate most humanitarian assistance funding into a new International Humanitarian Assistance (IHA) account.

Humanitarian Assistance FY19 Enacted FY20 Request FY20 Final
Disaster Aid (IDA) $4.39 billion $0 $4.4 billion
International Humanitarian Assistance (IHA) $0 $5.97 billion $0
Refugees (MRA) $3.43 billion $365 million $3.43 billion
Emergency Refugees $1 million $0 $100,000
Total $7.82 billion $6.33 billion $7.83 billion

Global Health: Remains Strong

The conferenced package provides $9.09 billion for global health programs in FY20 – $255 million (3%) more than in FY19 and a reflection of strong bipartisan support in Congress. It holds funding for bilateral HIV/AIDS programs flat, but includes a $210 million (16%) increase for the U.S. Global Fund contribution and rejects the Administration’s proposal to reduce the U.S. contribution from 33% to 25%. Additionally, Congress maintains level funding for international family planning at the FY19 enacted level.

Global Health* FY19 Enacted FY20 Request FY20 Final
Bilateral PEPFAR $4.37 billion $3.35 billion $4.37 billion
Global Fund $1.35 billion $958 million $1.56 billion
USAID HIV/AIDS $330 million $0 $330 million
Malaria $755 million $674 million $770 million
Tuberculosis $302 million $261 million $310 million
Maternal/Child Health $835 million $620 million $851 million
Vulnerable Children $24 million $0 $25 million
Nutrition $145 million $79 million $150 million
Family Planning $608 million $259 million $608 million
NTDs $103 million $75 million $103 million
Global Health Security $100 million $90 million $100 million
Total $8.84 billion $6.34 billion $9.09 billion

*State Department and USAID Global Health accounts only, except for family planning.

Food Aid: Modest Increases

Congress provides a $9 million (1%) boost for the Food for Peace program compared to the FY19 enacted level, rejecting the Administration’s proposal to eliminate it for the third year in a row. The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition program sees a $9.7 million (5%) increase, with $20 million from the program’s overall funding designated to purchase some food aid locally or regionally – $5 million more than in FY19.

FY20 Agriculture Appropriations International Programs Snapshot

FY19 Enacted FY20 Request FY20 Final
Food for Peace/PL 480 Title II $1.72 billion $0 $1.73 billion
McGovern-Dole* $210.3 million $0 $220 million
Total $1.93 billion $0 $1.95 billion

*Includes $15 million in FY19 and $20 million in FY20 for local and regional procurement.


Multilateral Assistance: Significant Boost

The conferenced package once again rejects the Administration’s request to eliminate the International Organizations and Programs (IO&P) account, which funds voluntary contributions to various UN-affiliated and other international organizations, and instead boosts its funding to $391 million, a $52 million (15%) increase compared to the FY19 enacted level. In addition, the bill provides $1.47 billion to cover assessed contributions to the UN and other international organizations – a $114 million (8%) increase compared to the FY19 enacted level.

It also provides $1.69 billion for Treasury International Programs, representing a $174 million (11%) increase.

International Peacekeeping: Some Cuts

Congress cuts funding for Contributions for International Peacekeeping (CIPA), which covers assessed contributions for UN peacekeeping missions, and Peacekeeping Operations (PKO), which funds non-UN peacekeeping forces, training, and operations by $25 million (2%) and $31 million (6%), respectively. As in past years, the conferenced package maintains the 25% legislative cap on UN peacekeeping contributions rather than the negotiated rate of 27.9%. As such, the U.S. will not be able to fully meet its peacekeeping obligations and continue to accumulate arrears, which currently amount to about $780 million and will rise to almost one billion next year.

Peacekeeping FY19 Enacted FY20 Request FY20 Final
UN Operations (CIPA) $1.55 billion $1.14 billion $1.53 billion
Non-UN Ops (PKO) $489 million $291 million $457 million
Total $2.04 billion $1.43 billion $1.98 billion


Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Fund

Building on the Administration’s W-GDP Initiative launched in February to empower women economically in the developing world, the conferenced package provides up to $100 million to support the new initiative.

Countering Chinese Influence Fund

Congress provides $300 million for a new Countering Chinese Influence Fund, aimed at combating rising Chinese influence around the world.

Environment and Climate

While Congress does not provide funding the Green Climate Fund, it does include $140 million in flexible funding for the Global Environment Facility. It also provides $6.4 million for the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)/UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which did not receive funding in FY19.

The conferenced package includes $15 million for conservation and, for the first time, designates $177 million and $179 million for adaptation and renewable energy programs, respectively. Congress also increases funding for biodiversity by $30 million (11%), wildlife trafficking by $10 million (11%), and sustainable landscapes by $10 million (8%) compared to the FY19 enacted levels – rejecting the Administration’s proposal to cut all three programs by a combined 70%.


Building on the strong language in the House and Senate State-Foreign Operations Appropriations (SFOPS) bills, the SFOPS portion of the conferenced package and accompanying explanatory statement include several important provisions to strengthen Congressional oversight and authority, including:

  • Directs the State Department to restore more than $40 million in funds that expired at the end of FY19 due to “apportionment and obligation delays.”
  • Requires the apportionment and obligation of certain funds within 60 days of the enactment of the FY20 spending package.
  • Requires the Administration to notify and consult Congress before implementing any “programmatic, funding, and organizational changes” as a result of a foreign assistance review.
  • Requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to submit a report to Congress within 60 days of the release of any foreign assistance review assessing the methodology and basis for its recommendations.
  • Requires the State Department to provide Congress with detailed plans on how it intends to spend Congressionally appropriated funds for the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador within 60 days of the enactment of the FY20 spending package.


In addition to the twelve FY20 appropriations bills, several bipartisan authorizing priorities were also added to the spending package, including:

Global Fragility Act (H.R. 2116, S. 727)

  • Led by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in the Senate and Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Adam Smith (D-WA), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Bill Keating (D-MA), and Francis Rooney (R-FL) in the House, this bill establishes a strategy and interagency initiative to reduce and address the causes of violence in fragile states.

Championing American Business Through Diplomacy Act (H.R. 1704)

  • Led by Reps. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) in the House, this bill will bolster U.S. business competitiveness abroad by prioritizing economic and commercial diplomacy.

Export-Import Bank Reauthorization

  • Reauthorizes the Export-Import Bank for seven years, through 2026, and provides for a temporary board when the number of directors drops below a quorum.

Next Steps

With its work on FY20 spending complete, Congress will recess for the holidays. When Members return in January, they will be able to turn their full attention to the FY21 budget and appropriations process – with the Administration’s budget request expected in early February. However, Members will have their work cut out for them with a shortened legislative calendar due to a Senate impeachment trial and November’s elections.

Account-by-Account Details

Download the account-by-account details here.