December 17, 2015

International Affairs Budget Update 12/17/15

Detailed Analysis of International Affairs Funding in Final FY16 Omnibus Spending Package

Following weeks of extensive and intense negotiations, congressional leadership introduced the $1.15 trillion omnibus spending package in the early morning hours Wednesday.  The measure, which funds the government through September 30, 2016, is expected to pass both the House and Senate in the coming days.

While the overall FY16 funding level for the International Affairs Budget was increased in the final spending package, the continued erosion of funding in the base budget is a significant concern.  Funding for FY16 International Affairs—including the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account and international food aid—totals $54.6 billion: $39.7 billion in base funds and $14.9 billion in OCO.  While this is $3.7 billion (7%) above FY15 enacted levels, the increase is driven by the decision to boost the OCO account by $5.6 billion (61%) while cutting base funding by $2 billion (approximately 5%).

Base funding has not been this low since FY09—well before the myriad of new threats we are facing today, including the Syrian civil war and the rise of ISIS, an increasingly belligerent Russia, and epidemics like Ebola, had emerged.

While base funding for the International Affairs Budget is cut significantly, base funding for most of the rest of the budget grows under the agreement. Overall, base funding increases by about 6% for other Non-Defense programs (taken as a whole) and by 5% for the Department of Defense and other defense activities.

USGLC issued a press statement yesterday praising the overall increase of funds to address extraordinary emergency needs but expressing serious concern with the continued erosion of base International Affairs funding in the omnibus, stating: “It is our strong hope that future budget negotiations will address this dramatic shortfall in base funding that is essential for America to remain a global leader.”


FY15 Enacted FY16 Request FY16 Enacted
Base $41.6 billion $48.5 billion $39.7 billion
OCO $9.3 billion $7.0 billion $14.9 billion
Total $50.9 billion $55.6 billion $54.6 billion

*The table excludes $2.5 billion in FY15 emergency funding, which was provided to combat the Ebola crisis in West Africa.


  1. Highlights of Increases and Decreases
  2. Notable Program Funding and Policy Issues
  3. Account-by-Account Detail of FY16 International Affairs Budget
  4. Additional Information and Resources


Increases Compared to FY15 Enacted (figures include base and OCO)

  • State Department Diplomatic and Consular Affairs: up 4.8% (+$373 million)
  • Contributions to International Peacekeeping Activities: up 16% (+$342 million)
  • National Endowment for Democracy: up 26% (+$35 million)
  • Development Assistance: up 11% (+$274 million)
  • International Disaster Assistance: up 47% (+$899 million)
  • Non-proliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining and Related Programs: up 29% (+$201 million)
  • Peacekeeping Operations: up 27% (+127 million)
  • Peace Corps: up 8% (+$30 million)
  • PL 480 Title II Food Aid: up 17% (+$250 million)

Decreases Compared to FY15 Enacted (figures include base and OCO)

  • Contributions to International Organizations: down 2% (-$27 million)
  • Embassy Security, Construction and Maintenance: down 4.4% (-$102 million)
  • Complex Crisis Fund: down 40% (-$20 million)
  • Conflict Stabilization Operations: down 100% (-$15 million)
  • Economic Support Fund: down 9% (-$428 million)
  • International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement: down 2% (-$30 million)
  • Contributions to International Development Association (IDA): down 7% (-$91 million)

Programs Requested for FY16, but Not Funded

  • Peace Operations Response Mechanism
  • IDA Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative
  • African Development Fund Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative


State Operations and Diplomatic and Embassy Security: Growth, but Below the Request

The bill includes $8.2 billion for Diplomatic and Consular Affairs Programs (D&CP), a 4.8% ($373 million) increase from current levels, but $418 million below the Administration’s request—which covers the cost of State Department operations around the world. Consistent with the Administration’s request, the omnibus provides $2.2 billion for embassy security, construction and maintenance, a 4.4% ($102 million) cut from FY15.

International Security Assistance: Funding Up, but Further Shift to OCO

The measure provides a total of $8.9 billion for international security assistance, 5% ($446 million) more than in FY15 and 3% ($280 million) more than the President’s request. Compared to the request, the bill provides less for Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining, and Related (NADR) Programs and more for International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF), including an additional $50 million to equip European and Eurasian partners facing Russian aggression. Consistent with the growing dependence on OCO funding, the share of funding for international security assistance provided through OCO increases from 21% in FY15 to 28% in FY16.

Global Health: Modest Increase in Funding

The bill provides $8.5 billion for Global Health programs, 0.6% ($50 million) more than in FY15. The measure maintains funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria at FY15 levels, $244 million more than the President’s request.  Most other programs are also held flat, but the bill provides increases for Maternal and Child Health ($35 million), Malaria ($5 million) and nutrition ($10 million). Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, received $235 million within the MCH account—$35 million above FY15 and the same as the Administration’s request.

Global Health* FY15 Enacted FY16 Request FY16 Enacted
Bilateral PEPFAR $4.32 billion $4.32 billion $4.32 billion
Global Fund $1.35 billion $1.1 billion $1.35 billion
HIV/AIDS $330 million $330 million $330 million
Malaria $670 million $674 million $674 million
Tuberculosis $236 million $191 million $236 million
Maternal/Child Health $715 million $770 million $750 million
 Vulnerable Children $22 million $15 million $22 million
 Nutrition $115 million $101 million $125 million
 Family Planning $610 million $613 million $608 million
 NTDs $100 million $87 million $100 million
 Global Health Security $73 million $50 million $73 million
 Total $8.45 billion  $8.18 billion  $8.50 billion 

*State Department and USAID Global Health accounts only, except for family planning.

Humanitarian Assistance: Major Increase in Funding, Continued Reliance on OCO

Reflecting the expanding humanitarian crises in Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Burma and elsewhere, the bill provides an 18% ($899 million) increase for humanitarian assistance. Over the past five years, as a result of these growing crises, funding for these accounts has more than doubled.  Under the bill, approximately $4.0 billion (68%) of the total funding provided for humanitarian assistance would be included in the OCO portion of the budget.

Humanitarian Assist. FY15 Enacted FY16 Request FY16 Enacted
Disaster Aid (IDA) $1.9 billion $1.74 billion $2.79 billion
Refugees (MRA) $3.06 billion $2.45 billion $3.06 billion
Emergency Refugees $50 million $50 million $50 million
Total $5.0 billion $4.25 billion $5.89 billion

Peacekeeping: Increase in Funding and Shift to OCO

The agreement provides $3.1 billion for peacekeeping (both UN and other operations), an 18% ($468 million) increase.  While this level is still below the initial proposal, the Administration lowered its request for the Contributions to International Peacekeeping Activities (CIPA) account to $2.7 billion due to the existence of peacekeeping credits and savings. Overall, the agreement provides $2.46 billion for this account, which includes $667 million in base funds and $1.79 billion in OCO for the missions in Africa and the Near East. It also includes a total of $601 million for Non-UN operations and peacekeeper training programs. The measure shifts the bulk of peacekeeping funding from the base budget to OCO. Under the bill, 74% of these costs would now be funded through OCO, compared to only 13% in FY15.  This is troubling because most of this funding is for operations that constitute long-term, enduring commitments.

The bill also includes partial funding for the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership (APRRP), which would build the rapid peacekeeping response capacities of six African countries, but rejects the $150 million requested for the Peace Operations Response Mechanism (PORM).

With respect to the long-standing legislative cap on peacekeeping contributions, similar to the past three years, the omnibus calls for a continuation of a partial peacekeeping cap lift to 27.14%.

Peacekeeping FY15 Enacted FY16 Request FY16 Enacted
UN Operations $2.12 billion $2.93 billion $2.46 billion
Non-UN Ops $474 million $495 million $601 million
PORM $0 $150 million $0
Total $2.59 billion $3.58 billion $3.06 billion

Multilateral Assistance: Reduced Funding, IMF Reform Approved

The omnibus cuts funding for multilateral assistance by 5% ($127 million). The most significant reduction is to the U.S. contribution to the International Development Association, which is cut by 7% ($91 million). The bill holds multilateral climate-related funding largely flat and does not include the additional $150 million requested by the Administration for the new Green Climate Fund (GCF). However, the bill gives the Administration flexibility to use other economic assistance funds to make such a contribution. This is different than the original House version of the bill, which prohibited such a contribution. Importantly, the omnibus provides the authority to restructure the U.S. financial position at the IMF—authority which the Administration has sought from Congress for the past four budget cycles.

Development and Economic Assistance: Programs Grow, But Fall Below the Request

The bill increases funding for most of the major development and economic assistance accounts and agencies, although the levels are still below the requested amounts.  Funding for Development Assistance grows by 11% ($274 million). The measure also provides a 6% ($67 million) boost to USAID’s Operating Expenses account and an 8% ($30 million) increase for the Peace Corps. The measure includes a $428 million reduction in Economic Support Funds. However, this is more than offset by the inclusion of $930 million in the Assistance to Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia (AEECA) account, which is provided in lieu of a portion of the Administration’s request for ESF funding. The bill provides $901 million for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, $1 million above the FY15 level but well below the President’s request.

Development and Economic Assist. FY15 Enacted FY16 Request FY16 Enacted
DA $2.51 billion $3.0 billion $2.78 billion
MCC $900 million $1.25 billion $901 million
Peace Corps $380 million $410 million $410 million
USAID OE $1.22 billion $1.43 billion $1.28 billion
ESF $4.75 billion $6.14 billion $4.32 billion
AEECA $0 $0 $930 million

Central America: Funding Increased to Support Greater U.S. Engagement

The bill includes a major increase in economic and other assistance to Central America to help address the underlying causes of the surge in unaccompanied minors attempting to cross the southern border.  In its request, the Administration proposed to more than triple U.S. assistance to Central America, raising such aid from about $300 million in FY14 to approximately $1 billion in FY16. While falling short of the request, the omnibus includes about $750 million for the initiative, more than a doubling current funding. The funding is provided through a range of different International Affairs accounts, including the Development Assistance, Economic Support Fund, Foreign Military Financing, and International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement accounts.

Food Aid: Significant One-Time Increase Provided

The bill provides a total of $1.9 billion for international food aid. This includes $1.7 billion for the Food for Peace (PL 480) program funded through the Agricultural appropriations section of the omnibus. The $250 million increase from FY15 (and $300 million addition to the request) is described by the appropriators as a “one-time” increase intended to help the U.S. respond to ongoing emergency food assistance requirements resulting from the conflicts in Syria and elsewhere.

Policy Provisions

The bill generally maintains current law on major policy provisions.

  • The bill does not include the Mexico City Policy (originally included in the House bill), which requires that all non-governmental organizations that receive federal funding refrain from performing or promoting abortion services as a method of family planning.
  • The bill excludes a provision that would have withheld some State Department funding related to the ongoing controversy over its email system—though it does direct improvements in transparency and records management.
  • Similarly, the bill excludes a proposal to require background checks for refugees from Syria and some other countries, but includes a provision that would require increased scrutiny for individuals wishing to come to the U.S. but who have traveled to certain “high risk” countries, including Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Sudan.
  • The bill includes several provisions to increase transparency, effectiveness, and sustainability of foreign assistance programs.
  • As noted earlier, the bill also does not include a prohibition on contributions to the Green Climate Fund.


Account-by-account details for the final FY16 appropriations for International Affairs Programs can be found here.