March 6, 2020

Congress Approves Emergency Funding to Address Coronavirus Threat

Congress Approves Emergency Funding to Address Coronavirus Threat, Including $1.25 Billion for State Department and USAID

As the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly around the world, this week Congress overwhelmingly approved $8.3 billion in FY20 emergency supplemental funding for a comprehensive, whole-of-government response to this growing global health threat. The President signed the measure into law this morning. USGLC President and CEO Liz Schrayer released a statement commending bipartisan Congressional leaders for committing essential resources for the State Department and USAID to address the global fight.

It is important to note that this funding is not subject to discretionary spending caps for FY20 because Congress designated it as “emergency” resource needs.

International Affairs Funding

While the original emergency supplemental funding request from the Administration included no international funding, bipartisan Congressional leadership added $1.25 billion for the State Department and USAID to support the global response to the coronavirus. This represents 15% of the total funding.

  • Diplomatic Programs ($264 million): To maintain consular operations around the world, reimburse the costs of evacuating personnel and dependents, and provide for emergency preparedness needs.
  • Global Health Programs ($435 million): To be administered by USAID, including not less than $200 million for the Emergency Reserve Fund, which contains non-expiring funds that can be quickly accessed to respond to emerging disease threats.
  • International Disaster Assistance ($300 million): To support USAID’s disaster response capabilities in countries impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Economic Support Fund ($250 million): To address economic, security, and stabilization needs in coronavirus affected countries.
  • USAID Office of the Inspector General ($1 million): To conduct oversight of activities related to the coronavirus response.

The supplemental includes several other important provisions, including:

  • Increases the amount of funding that can be transferred from other diplomatic activities to cover the cost of emergency evacuations from $10 million to $100 million.
  • Allows funding for Global Health Programs and the Economic Support Fund to be used as contributions to international organizations after consulting Congress.
  • Requires the State Department and USAID to submit a strategy to Congress within 15 days of the enactment of the supplemental funding measure to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus abroad.”
  • Requires the State Department and USAID to submit a report to Congress within 30 days of the enactment of the supplemental funding measure on the proposed uses of funds by country and project.

Senate Overwhelmingly Defeats Paul Amendment Canceling International Affairs Funding

During floor consideration of the coronavirus supplemental in the Senate, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) offered an amendment to offset the cost of the emergency funding bill by canceling – or rescinding – FY20 unobligated funds for the International Affairs Budget. If enacted, this would have cut overall funding for America’s development and diplomacy programs by 15%.

Chairman of the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), moved to table – or set aside – Senator Paul’s amendment.

Thanks to a rapid mobilization by USGLC, our coalition partners, and the leadership of Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Pat Leahy (D-VT), the vote on the motion to table – in which a “yes” vote constituted opposition to the Paul amendment – passed with a strong bipartisan vote of 81-15. Senators who voted ‘no’ on the motion to table included Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Mike Braun (R-IN), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), John Kennedy (R-LA), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Rand Paul (R-KY), David Perdue (R-GA), Jim Risch (R-ID), and Pat Toomey (R-PA).

USGLC President and CEO Liz Schrayer released a statement applauding the bipartisan rejection of the Paul amendment while also expressing concern that “in the midst of the global coronavirus outbreak we would even question the need for America to engage in the world.” USGLC is grateful for the swift action from our members and partners that helped create the momentum for a sound defeat of the Paul amendment.