1. Congress Passes “CR-Minibus,” Extending International Affairs Funding Into Lame Duck
With House lawmakers heading home for the midterms, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution this week that extends government funding until after the November elections. The CR – which was attached to the Defense and Labor/Health and Human Services/Education appropriations “minibus” – funds the International Affairs Budget at FY18 enacted levels through December 7. The President is expected to sign the bill today.
For the first time in over twenty years, Congress has now passed five of its twelve FY19 spending bills before the end of the fiscal year. Seven spending bills remain that will need to be negotiated during the lame duck. This includes the State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS) bill, which funds the lion’s share of the International Affairs Budget.
Looking to the lame duck, issues such as funding for the border wall and other Administration and Congressional priorities will likely dominate negotiations over the seven remaining funding bills. It will be critical that as Congress finalizes these bills, the SFOPS topline – and therefore the International Affairs Budget topline – is not disproportionately cut to pay for other priorities, including a border wall.
2. BUILD Act on the Verge of Becoming Law
This week Congress also took action on bipartisan legislation to strengthen America’s foreign assistance programs. On Wednesday, the House passed the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act (H.R. 5105/S. 2463), led by Reps. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Adam Smith (D-WA) and Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Chris Coons (D-DE), as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill. The Senate is expected to vote on the package in the coming days and weeks, resulting in final passage of the BUILD Act.
As noted previously, the BUILD Act would streamline America’s development finance tools into a single, full-service international development finance institution. USGLC President and CEO Liz Schrayer has praised the bill, stating, “A new and robust development finance institution will enable our nation’s businesses to be much more competitive in some of today’s fastest growing markets around the world while working to fight global poverty.”
Several other bills saw action in Congress this week, including: