June 12, 2015
1. House Appropriations Committee Approves FY16 State-Foreign Operations Bill: Cuts $1.4 Billion from Current Level
The House Appropriations Committee yesterday approved by voice vote the FY16 State-Foreign Operations (SFOPs) Appropriations bill, which funds approximately 97% of the International Affairs Budget. The bill, which is largely the same as the Subcommittee mark, provides a total of $47.8 billion, including $40.5 billion in base funding and $7.3 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. Overall, this represents about a $1.4 billion (3%) cut from FY15 enacted levels, and a $6.1 billion (11%) cut from the President’s request.
The House bill cuts OCO funding by $1.9 billion compared to FY15. Because the State Department is dependent on OCO to fund several long-term programs, such as humanitarian assistance in the Middle East and elsewhere, this cut puts significant pressure on base programs.
FY16 State-Foreign Appropriations Snapshot
*The table excludes $2.5 billion in emergency funding, which was provided specifically to combat the Ebola crisis in West Africa, but includes the Senate’s FY16 302(b) allocation of $759 million in emergency spending.
A full list of amendments is below:
Chairwoman Granger began the mark-up by saying, “The United States must do more to lead on the world’s stage. This bill addresses challenges head-on and demonstrates our commitment to programs that promote global security and American prosperity.”
As previously reported, the bill includes modest increases in funding for diplomatic security and international security assistance, makes deep cuts to economic support funds and multilateral assistance programs, and holds most other accounts at or close to FY15 levels.
Detailed Analysis of Key Accounts: With the release of the State-Foreign Operations bill report language, the following provides a more expanded analysis of how key accounts fared in the House bill.
State Operations and Diplomatic and Embassy Security
The House bill includes $8 billion for Diplomatic and Counselor Affairs programs—a $224 million increase from current levels—which cover the cost of State Department operations around the world. However, this is $567 million below the Administration’s request. The House fully funds the Administration’s request for worldwide security programs both in State Department operations and embassy construction.
International Security Assistance
The House provides a total of $8.6 billion for international security assistance, $165 million more than FY15 and the same as the Administration’s request. Compared to the request the bill provides less for Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining, and Related (NADR) Programs and more for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INCLE) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF), including an additional $50 million to equip European and Eurasian partners facing Russian aggression.
The House maintains funding for Global Health at current levels, $273 million above the request. Compared to the request, the House cuts funding for family planning by $152 million, provides up to $1.35 billion for the Global Fund ($244 million above the request), and $882 million for Maternal and Child Health (MNCH). The MNCH increase ($112 million above the request) would, however, most likely be offset by the bill’s requirement that the Global Health account also fund any U.S. contribution to UNICEF—which is normally funded through an account (International Organizations and Programs) that the House bill zeros out. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance received $235 million within the MNCH account, the same as the Administration’s request.
*State Department and USAID Global Health accounts only, except for family planning.
Reflecting the continuing, and in many cases expanding, humanitarian crises in Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Burma and elsewhere, the House holds funding for humanitarian assistance flat at its FY15 level, rather than cutting it as proposed in the Administration’s request. Over the past four years, as a result of these growing crises, funding for these accounts has nearly doubled. Although many of these are likely to continue over the long-term, much of this funding has been provided through OCO—including approximately $1.8 billion (35%) of the humanitarian assistance funding included in the House bill.
The House provides a slight ($64 million) increase from FY15 for non-UN peacekeeping operations. However, it maintains funding for UN peacekeeping operations at the FY15 level, which falls $818 million below the Administration’s request—which was driven by the need to address surging requirements in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and elsewhere. It also rejects the $150 million requested for a new Peacekeeping Response Mechanism.
The House bill cuts funding for multilateral assistance by $1.3 billion (47%) from current levels. While the cuts are focused especially on various climate-related funds, contributions to a broad range of International Financial Institutions would also be reduced or eliminated. The bill provides no funding for the IMF and zeros out funding for voluntary contributions within the International Organizations and Programs account (through which UNICEF and many other International Organizations are normally funded).
Development and Economic Assistance
The House holds funding for most of the major development accounts and agencies flat at their FY15 levels, well below the levels requested by the Administration. The bill includes a major reduction ($823 million from current levels and $2.2 billion from the request) in Economic Support Funds (ESF), through which the U.S. provides economic assistance to key allies in the Middle East and elsewhere. The House bill does not indicate which countries would feel the impact of these reductions.
The bill also cuts USAID’s Operating Expenses (OE) account, which covers USAID salaries and benefits and other Washington and overseas operating costs, by $93 million (8%) from FY15 levels and $302 million (21%) from the request. The House bill cites concerns about the efficiency of USAID’s procurement process, but provides no indication of where the reductions should be taken.
Among the other policy-oriented provisions in the bill is a prohibition on the use of funds for an embassy or other diplomatic facility in Cuba. There is also language relating to Congress’ investigation of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, stipulating that 15% of the State Department’s operational funds be withheld until certain requirements are met concerning the Department’s management of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and electronic communications. The bill also includes the Mexico City Policy, which requires all non-governmental organizations that receive federal funding to refrain from performing or promoting abortion services as a method of family planning, even with non-U.S. government funds in other countries. Finally, the bill does not extend the authorization of the Export-Import Bank, which will expire at the end of the month if Congress does not act to reauthorize it.
2. What’s Next for FY16 Appropriations
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) continues to push for the consideration of all 12 appropriations bills by the full House; however, it remains to be seen whether the State-Foreign Operations bill will be brought up for consideration. There are indications that the House could consider the bill later in June but House leadership remains skeptical.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to mark-up its version of the State-Foreign Operations bill in early July. While not scheduled, it is likely the Subcommittee and full Committee will mark-up the bill the week of July 9.
3. State Department Authorization Moves Forward in Senate
This week the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the FY16 Department of State Operations Authorization and Embassy Security Act for the first time in five years. The bill does not address funding levels for the State Department after the majority and minority could not find common ground, but contains nearly 100 provisions concerning Department authorities and activities, reporting requirements, and organizational, personnel and other matters. The breadth and diversity of the bill can be seen by reviewing even a relatively small handful of these provisions. They include, for example:
Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) has indicated his intention to introduce the bill as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is currently under consideration on the Senate floor.