October 27, 2011
With the clock rapidly ticking toward the November 18 expiration of the FY12 Continuing Resolution (CR) – and acknowledgement now from Appropriations leaders that another CR until mid-late December will be necessary – the Senate is preparing to take up another “minibus” appropriations package next week that could include the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill (S. 1601). This package is tentatively scheduled to hit the floor on Wednesday following a vote earlier in the week on the first appropriations minibus (comprised of the Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Transportation-HUD Appropriations bills). While it has yet to be finalized what bills will be in the second minibus, possibilities include State-Foreign Operations with the Financial Services and Energy-Water Appropriations bills or State-Foreign Operations with the Defense and Homeland Security Appropriations bills.
Given the current political and fiscal climate, the International Affairs Budget would be very vulnerable to additional cuts during Senate floor consideration. The Senate’s $44.64 billion State-Foreign Operations allocation for non-war related “core” programs is a significant $5 billion improvement over the $39.6 billion provided by the House. Therefore, any cuts adopted by the Senate could be damaging in final FY12 negotiations with the House.
2. White House Warns Appropriators Against Disproportionate Cuts to the International Affairs Budget
Last week the Obama administration weighed in on the FY12 appropriations bills, outlining the White House’s priorities for the final bills. Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew sent a letter to House and Senate Appropriations leaders making it clear that President Obama will veto any appropriations measure that “undermines critical domestic priorities or national security through funding levels or language restrictions, contains earmarks, or fails to make tough choices to cut where needed while maintaining what we need to spur long-term job creation and win the future.”
The letter made a strong case for the International Affairs Budget and endorsed the Senate’s higher funding levels. Lew emphasized the White House’s commitment to the International Affairs Budget, saying: “The President believes that civilian and military power are inextricably linked, and that effective deployment of tools in a coordinated and flexible way is fundamental to meeting the whole of our national security priorities. The budget, therefore, must build military strength and smart civilian security programs, domestically and around the world.”
Lew expressed support for the Senate marks for Defense and State-Foreign Operations and cautioned against deep and disproportionate cuts to the civilian tools of national security, saying, “The [Senate’s] DOD funding level, a freeze, will sustain our strong military, while the difficult but manageable reductions in the Department of State and other international programs leave the resources to sustain critical U.S. engagement around the world. By contrast, an unbalanced approach will not serve America’s national security or its vital interests around the world.”