1. Congress Passes Short-Term CR to Avoid Government Shutdown
With hours to spare before the federal government was scheduled to shut down, Congress approved a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to extend government funding for two months – but only after Democrats removed a provision to suspend the debt ceiling in the face of Republican opposition. The stop-gap measure was approved in the House by a 254 to 175 margin after passage by the Senate (65-35) and was signed into law by the President prior to the September 30 midnight deadline.
The CR extends FY21 funding levels through December 3 – giving Congress and the Administration more time to reach an agreement on final FY22 spending levels. While the full House approved nine of its twelve FY22 spending bills this summer, including the State-Foreign Operations bill that funds the vast majority of the International Affairs Budget, the Senate has only approved three of its FY22 spending bills at the committee level.
In addition to the funding extension, the package approved by Congress also included FY22 emergency supplemental funding for disaster relief and to support Afghan refugees. Of this total, $2.2 billion in emergency funding was provided for the International Affairs Budget. Specifically:
- $2.1 billion for costs associated with the evacuation and resettlement of individuals from Afghanistan, including:
- $976 million for Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance to provide Afghan refugees with access to resettlement services and basic life necessities such as food, healthcare, and housing.
- $415 million for Migration and Refugee Assistance to support refugees in and outside of Afghanistan, and to assist with the processing of Afghans who received Priority 1 and 2 refugee referrals.
- $400 million for International Disaster Assistance to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance including shelter, food, and water, sanitation, and hygiene for vulnerable populations still in Afghanistan.
- $277 million for Emergencies in the Diplomatic and Consular Services to cover the cost of evacuating U.S. citizens and at-risk Afghans and to support future evacuations of vulnerable populations from the country.
- $100 million for Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance to respond to unexpected and urgent global humanitarian or migration emergencies.
The CR also extends two important international affairs authorizations that would otherwise expire during the period covered by the CR:
- Continues the temporary Passport Security Surcharge and Immigrant Visa Security Surcharge Spending Authority, which are used to help offset the cost of consular services.
- Provides the Development Finance Corporation with the authority to use prior year expiring funds to modify loans that were previously managed under the Overseas Private Investment Corporation to prevent them from defaulting.
However, the CR does not include three other anomalies requested by the Administration that would have (1) provided additional resources for the Treasury Department’s debt service suspension initiative, (2) authorized the Development Finance Corporation to increase its rate of operations during the CR period, and (3) changed the default rate for the Export-Import Bank.
2. House FY22 Defense Authorization Bill Includes Bipartisan Provisions to Strengthen Development and Diplomacy
The House passed its FY22 National Defense Authorization bill last week, with several bipartisan amendments to strengthen America’s international affairs programs – many based on bipartisan legislation introduced during this Congress.
- An amendment by Foreign Affairs Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Lead Republican Michael McCaul (R-TX) based on their FY21 State Department Authorization bill. Approved, 362 to 59.
- An amendment by Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) creating an Office of City and State Diplomacy at the Department of State, based on their City and State Diplomacy Act. Approved, 367 to 59.
- An amendment by Reps. Norma Torres (D-CA) and Ann Wagner (R-MO) to strengthen efforts to address violence against women and children in the Northern Triangle, based on their Central American Women and Children Protection Act. Approved, 360 to 66.
- An amendment by Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Steve Chabot (R-OH) establishing a U.S. global health security strategy, based on their Global Health Security Act. Approved by voice vote.
- An amendment by Reps. Ami Bera (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) authorizing U.S. participation in the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), based on their Securing America from Epidemics Act. Approved by voice vote.