October 3, 2012

International Affairs Budget Update, 10-2-12

1.    FY13 Continuing Resolution Passed by Senate, Signed into Law

Following House passage on September 13th, the Senate on September 22nd cleared the FY13 Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government running through March 27, 2013.  The measure passed by a vote of 62-30, with one Democrat and 29 Republicans in opposition.  President Obama last Friday signed the bill into law ahead of the September 30th deadline.

The CR funds discretionary spending at $1.047 trillion, the level adopted for FY13 last year as part of the Budget Control Act and the amount the Senate used in drafting its appropriations measures for FY13.  As detailed in the chart below, the CR provides a total of $55.2 billion for International Affairs, slightly higher than the current $54.9 billion level and significantly higher than the House’s FY13 appropriations level.

International Affairs Budget Snapshot


FY12 Enacted

FY13 Request

FY13 House Appropriation

FY13 Senate Appropriation




















As we reported previously, during debate on the CR the Senate defeated 10-81 an amendment offered by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) that would have cut U.S. foreign assistance to several countries, including Egypt, Libya and Pakistan.

2.  Senate Advances Foreign Assistance Reform Bills

Prior to leaving town, the Senate also advanced two reform bills, the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012 (S. 3310/H.R. 3159) and the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) Act of 2012 (S. 3341).  On September 19th, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved both bills, and the Senate subsequently passed the QDDR bill on September 21st 

Transparency and Accountability Bill

As we reported earlier this month, the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act – introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-IN) in June – would codify the Foreign Assistance Dashboard and direct the President to establish guidelines and measurable goals for U.S. foreign assistance.  Its companion House bill – sponsored by Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Howard Berman (D-CA) – was introduced last October, but has yet to be taken up by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

USGLC released a press statement commending the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s passage of the bill and praising the bipartisan leadership from both chambers for these efforts to “ensure our nation has accountable, transparent foreign assistance programs across all departments and agencies.”


On September 21st, the Senate passed by unanimous consent the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review Act of 2012.  The bill, which was introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), directs the Secretary of State, in consultation with State and USAID officials, to undertake a QDDR every four years.

In its report language, the Committee acknowledged the important role USAID has played and will continue to play in the QDDR process: “The committee recognizes that the QDDR, by necessity, must be a whole of government effort, and reflect appropriate participation and appropriate roles in a collaborative diplomacy and development review process by all stakeholders. The committee notes that the Administrator of USAID served as co-chair of the first quadrennial diplomacy and development review, completed in 2010, alongside the Secretary of State.”

3.  OMB Reports on Sequestration Process

On September 14th, OMB sent to Congress the much-anticipated report – as directed by Congress under the Sequestration Transparency Act – regarding how the Administration would implement the spending cuts mandated by sequestration beginning January 2.  The OMB report adds the Administration’s voice to many others opposing sequestration implementation, calling it “bad policy” that would have a “devastating impact on important defense and non-defense programs.”  OMB further characterizes sequestration as “not a responsible way for our Nation to achieve deficit reduction” and asks Congress to avoid the automatic cuts by “passing a comprehensive and balanced deficit reduction package.”

Estimates of sequestration’s cuts contained in the report, which the White House calls “preliminary,” closely match earlier projections made by the Congressional Budget Office.  Using FY12 as the baseline, defense discretionary spending would be cut by 9.4% while non-defense discretionary programs (including the International Affairs Budget) would fall by 8.2%.  For International Affairs accounts, OMB estimates that the cut would total about $4.7 billion.

The OMB report does not detail how the budget cuts would impact individual line-items, known as a “program, project, and activity (PPA).”  Therefore, the OMB report is limited to only these top-line projections regarding impacts to International Affairs programs:

  • Global Health programs would be cut $670 million from FY12 levels;
  • State Department operating expenses (DCP) would lose $1.084 billion;
  • USAID’s development programs would fall by $207 million;
  • Refugee relief would be cut $154 million; and
  • Foreign Military Financing would fall by $518 million.

OMB includes both base and war-related (Overseas Contingency Operations) accounts in its calculations for International Affairs.