March 11, 2011

International Affairs Budget Update, 3-11-11

1.        Senate Rejects H.R. 1 and Senate Democrats’ Alternative; Negotiations Continue
on FY11
2.        Top Administration Officials Continue Testifying Before Congress on FY 2012
International Affairs Budget

1.        Senate Rejects H.R. 1 and Senate Democrats’ Alternative; Negotiations Continue
on FY11

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:


  • Secretary Clinton stated in her opening statement before the House Appropriations State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee, “As I told Speaker Boehner, Chairman Rogers and many others, the 16 percent cut for State and USAID that passed the House last month would be devastating to our national security. It would force us to scale back dramatically on critical missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. As Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, and General Petraeus have all emphasized to you, we need a fully engaged and fully funded national security team—including State and USAID.”
  • If the U.S. does not meet its commitments to MDB’s and other international banks, Geithner warned before the House Appropriations State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee, the U.S. will “give China a substantial advantage in promoting its own commercial and security interests across numerous regions and sectors.”
  • Nides stated before the Senate Budget Committee, “From countering extremism in Yemen to serving alongside our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to training Mexico’s police force to help secure our southern border, what we do is critical to our national security.”

Congressional leaders

  • Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX), though agreeing these programs play a critical part of our national security, expressed skepticism of the overall funding level in the FY12 International Affairs Budget request, stating, “The total funding levels proposed in this budget simply will not be possible.”
  • Full Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said, of the FY12 request “While I share the Chairwoman’s interest in supporting national security priorities, we simply cannot sustain the level of spending in this bill.”
  • Subcommittee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) supported the FY12 request level, stating “We cannot let our current fiscal crisis create a future security crisis by cutting these invaluable programs.”
  • Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger noted concern about the increases for MDB’s in her opening statement at the hearing with Secretary Geithner, stating “This committee never consented to these capital increases.  Authorization bills are needed for each bank spelling out specific reforms and possibly withholding funds until reforms are met.  I cannot support writing a blank check to these institutions.”
  • Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) noted in his opening statement that the Administration’s FY12 request “is modest. The requested increase in international affairs war-related funding is explained, in part, by the transition in Iraq, where the State Department is scheduled to take over responsibility for U.S. operations there.”
  • Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-AL), however, stated that the State Department had received substantial increases in its budget since FY08 and that “we can’t sustain that.”
  • Chairman Conrad closed the Senate Budget hearing with a somber warning about the country’s fiscal health and the additional cuts that will likely be forthcoming to discretionary spending.  “I have been here 24 years. I don’t know anything that is more clear to me than the cuts that will be imposed on your agencies could be draconian and could come much quicker than anybody anticipates if there is not a more comprehensive, long-term deal that involves tax reform and the entitlements. I know that with certainty.”

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.”