December 10, 2014

International Affairs Budget Update, 12/10/14



For the past two weeks, Congress has been racing against the December 11th deadline to finalize FY15 appropriations.  The final “CROmnibus” agreement funds 11 of the 12 spending measures for the entire year, while a Continuing Resolution (CR) lasting through the end of February is used for the Department of Homeland Security.  The measure will likely be taken up by the House on Thursday and by the Senate by this weekend. In the interim, both chambers will consider a two or three-day CR in order to avoid a brief government shutdown when the CR expires at midnight tomorrow.

With FY15 spending levels basically frozen at FY14 amounts, most discretionary programs, including International Affairs programs, are flat-funded in the final spending package.  The $50.9 billion total for International Affairs programs is $300 million (+0.6%) higher than current appropriations and $1 billion (+2%) above House and Senate bills reported earlier this year.

In addition to this base and Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding, the agreement also includes $5.5 billion for Ebola Response and Preparedness, $2.5 billion of which supports International Affairs programs to fight the disease in West Africa.  This level is about $350 million less than the Administration’s request.

Despite the relatively strong overall funding level for International Affairs accounts, the final agreement heightens concerns about the continued erosion of on-going, base International Affairs accounts.  FY15 base appropriations, at $41.6 billion, fall 5.6% compared with current levels and are 16% below base resources in FY10.

USGLC issued a statement today on the mixed outcome for International Affairs programs.  While noting Congress is sustaining development and diplomacy accounts at a slightly higher funding level and providing additional emergency funding to fight Ebola, it expresses strong concerns about cuts to base funding.  “The continued decline in base International Affairs funding is a serious concern,” stated USGLC President & CEO Liz Schrayer.  “Given the enormity of the crises throughout the globe, it’s very risky to continue to reduce core funding while relying on the OCO account to fill the shortfall.”

Highlights of Specific Accounts

For many International Affairs accounts, amounts approved in the final agreement are flat or slightly above current levels.  A full detailed analysis will be forth coming in the next few days. In the interim, here are a few top-line highlights of how the final FY15 CROmnibus resolved some of the major House-Senate differences for International Affairs programs:

  • Diplomatic and Consular Programs: For State Department operations, the agreement includes $7.8 billion, the amount proposed by the Senate.  The House had included $8.25 billion in its bill, closer to the $8.35 billion request level.
  • Contributions to International Organizations: The agreement provides $1.47 billion for U.S. assessed contributions to the U.N. and other multilateral institutions by adding $74 million for international organizations operating in Afghanistan and Iraq, as proposed by the Senate.  As in recent years, the measure excludes funding for UNESCO.
  • Contributions to International Peacekeeping Activities:  The House ($1.77 billion) and Senate ($2.5 billion) were far apart on the level for U.N. peacekeeping contributions.  The final amount — $2.12 billion – roughly splits the difference but also authorizes the Administration to transfer unobligated FY14 funds from Diplomatic and Consular Programs (excluding Diplomatic Security) to meet assessed PKO requirements.  This would result in essentially full funding for peacekeeping.
  • Humanitarian Assistance: The bill includes a total of $4.95 billion for State Department refugee programs and the USAID emergency relief account, nearly $100 million more than current amounts.  The House had proposed higher levels for refugee activities while the Senate had recommended more for USAID’s humanitarian response.  The agreement adopts the higher of each proposal and is well above Administration requests.
  • USAID Operating Expenses: The final agreement increases USAID administrative resources by $76 million, or 6.7%, about mid-way between House and Senate recommendations.  The bill further encourages USAID to use its newly established Global Development Lab to pursue innovative solutions to development challenges around the globe.
  • Global Health: The agreement includes $8.45 billion for HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, maternal and child health, nutrition, and other global health activities, roughly the same as current spending but higher than either House or Senate bills had recommended.  The measure adopts the higher House level for HIV/AIDS (about $6 billion) and the larger Senate family planning amount ($524 million).
  • Economic Support Fund: For strategic-oriented economic assistance, the agreement includes $4.75 billion, $575 million more than the Senate and $265 million more than the House.  The total includes $400 million for Middle East Response.
  • Foreign Military Financing:  The final $5.9 billion FMF appropriation is at the level proposed by the House rather than the $5 billion amount recommended by the Senate.  Included in the total is $3.1 billion for Israel, as supported by both the House and Senate, and $1.3 billion for Egypt (with conditions).  The Senate had included $1 billion in its measure.
  • International Clean Technology and Strategic Climate Funds:  The agreement provides $185 million and $50 million, respectively, for these two multilateral Funds, representing flat levels compared with current amounts.  The Senate had recommended slightly higher appropriations, in line with the Administration’s request.  The House had included no funding for either Fund.
  • International Monetary Fund:  For the third consecutive year, Appropriators provide no funds for the U.S. to support IMF reforms negotiated several years ago.  The Senate bill had supported the reforms and included $315 million to back U.S. approval.  The House had rejected the proposal, a position sustained in the final agreement.