March 11, 2011
1. Senate Rejects H.R. 1 and Senate Democrats’ Alternative; Negotiations Continue
Sending a clear message that further compromise is needed on FY11 spending levels, the Senate rejected on Wednesday both the House’s Continuing Resolution (H.R. 1) and the Senate Democrats’ alternative package. H.R. 1 was rejected by a vote of 44-56, with all Democrats and Republicans Jim DeMint (R-SC), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Mike Lee (R-UT) voting against it. The Democrats’ alternative was defeated 42-58 with all Republicans and 11 Democrats voting against it.
H.R. 1, which reduces total spending $102 billion below the President’s FY11 request level, includes a $10 billion (19%) cut to the International Affairs Budget. The Senate Democrats’ alternative, which reduces FY11 spending $51 billion below the President’s request, reduces the International Affairs Budget by $4.1 billion (7.6%) below FY10 levels and $600 million below the current funding level.
As a result of the Senate’s failed votes, Congress is preparing another CR extension to allow negotiations to continue past the current CR’s expiration date of March 18. Today, the House Appropriations Committee unveiled a new three-week extension of the CR (to April 8), which cut an additional $6 billion from the overall budget. The new House CR extension, which the House will take up next week, cut $17 million from the International Affairs Budget, all from the International Fund for Ireland.
Even though FY11 levels remain unresolved, Congress will soon begin action on the FY12 budget resolutions which set an overall allocation—the 302(a) – for discretionary spending. Both the House and Senate Budget Committees are aiming to mark up their respective budget resolutions by mid-April, with the goal of floor action prior to the two-week Spring recess that begins on April 18. Next Wednesday, March 16, the USGLC will take to the Hill for our Budget Lobby Day to urge Members to oppose deep cuts to the FY11 and FY12 International Affairs Budget.
2. Top Administration Officials Continue Testifying Before Congress on FY 2012
International Affairs Budget
Top Administration officials continued to appear before Congressional committees this week, stressing the importance of the International Affairs Budget to national security and the danger of deep cuts to international affairs programs. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner appeared separately before the House Appropriations State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee, and Deputy Secretaries William Lynn (Defense) and Thomas Nides (State) testified before the Senate Budget Committee.
As you’ll see in the excerpts below, there were both supportive statements and statements of concern:
Former First Lady Laura Bush appeared at CARE’s 2011 International Women’s Day Celebration and spoke passionately about the need for foreign assistance even in a difficult budget environment, especially for maternal health and child survival programs. In an interview, she said, “I think disease and all the things that we treat are tied to national security in a lot of ways that we maybe don’t realize or that the American people don’t realize. If other countries have a chance to be stable, then that helps us. If there are ways we can prevent — and we can, because we are a wealthy country — if there are ways we can help other countries defeat diseases – I mean, as Melinda [Gates] was telling me earlier, we’re about to totally eradicate polio. And can you imagine? That would be so terrific.”