June 26, 2014

International Affairs Budget Update, 6/25/14

1. House Appropriations Committee Approves FY15 State-Foreign Operations Bill

Yesterday the House Appropriations Committee approved its FY15 State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill by a voice vote after debate on amendments related to assistance to Egypt and Ukraine, relations with China, the Peace Corps, and family planning programs.

As previously reported, while both the House and Senate bills are nearly identical on the total spending level, they differ significantly on the split between base and Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding and on the prioritization of some accounts.

Both bills total approximately $48.3 billion, but the Senate bill provides approximately $2.7 billion less in base funding than the House bill.  The Senate bill includes $39.7 billion in base funding and $8.6 billion in OCO funds, while the House bill includes $42.4 billion in base funding and $5.9 billion in OCO funds.

State-Foreign Operations Appropriations

FY14 Enacted

FY15 Request

FY15 House

FY15 Senate

$42.481b Base

$42.658b Base

$42.381b Base

$39.660b Base

$6.519b OCO

$5.912b OCO

$5.912b OCO

$8.625b OCO





Both the House and Senate bills prioritize funding for disaster and refugee aid, Global Health, and embassy security. In addition, both measures add funding above requested levels for Ukraine and other former Soviet and East European nations that face regional threats.  However, the House imposes significant cuts in contributions to International Organizations, UN Peacekeeping, and several Multilateral Development Banks while the Senate maintains funding levels in keeping with the Administration’s request.

Account-by-Account details comparing House and Senate levels

Last week we provided a more thorough analysis of the differences between the Senate and House bills which are driven both by policy differences as well as the nearly $3 billion gap between the Senate’s lower base funding and the House bill. Further analysis of the House and Senate bills is available here.

House Appropriations Committee Priorities and Debate

During consideration of the House bill, committee leaders emphasized the important role the bill’s programs play in addressing a myriad of global challenges, from Syria and Iraq to the Central African Republic and Ukraine.  The bill boosts funding for embassy security, democracy and security assistance, as well as disaster and refugee aid and Global Health.  At the same time, it cuts funding for Peacekeeping, a variety of UN humanitarian and specialized agencies, and several Multilateral Development Banks.

Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said that “we live in a time of global uncertainty and instability, and it is vital to our national security and well-being that the United States maintains a leadership role in the world.” Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-TX) said that “this is a national security bill that prioritizes funding for embassy security, democracy assistance, our strategic partners such as Israel, and life-saving health and refugee programs.”  Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) added that the programs funded by the State-Foreign Operations bill “[provide] stability and [prevent] costly security threats abroad.”

A number of amendments were offered during the committee markup, including:

  • Amendment offered by Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), which would reduce military aid to Egypt by $390 million and redirect the funding toward economic aid. The additional economic assistance would increase funding for higher education programs as well as programs in Sinai to counter poverty and improve education and access to basic services. The amendment was rejected 11-35.
  • Amendment offered by Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) to restore funding for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).  The amendment was rejected 20-26.
  • Amendment offered by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) to repeal the Mexico City Policy (Global Gag Rule), which prohibits U.S. assistance to foreign NGOs that promote or perform abortions.  The amendment was rejected 19-26.
  • Amendment offered by Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) to remove the bill’s $461 million cap on family planning and reproductive health funding.  The amendment was rejected 20-26.
  • Amendment offered by Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) to remove the ban on abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers in the event of rape, incest, or life endangerment. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
  • Amendment offered by Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) to name a section of road in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. after Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
  • Amendment offered by Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) to add report language which would encourage USAID to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, emphasizing agricultural assistance to rural women. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote. 

2. Outlook for Additional Action on FY15 Appropriations

While both House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) have made an aggressive push to move all twelve appropriations bills through their committees and onto the floor, progress has slowed in the past week, particularly in the Senate, where lawmakers have been unable to reach agreement on how to proceed on politically controversial amendments that Republicans seek to offer on several bills.

So far this year, the House has passed five of the 12 appropriations bills, while nine have made it out of full Committee; the tenth bill (Financial Services) will be advanced out of Committee today.  In the Senate, six bills have been passed by the full Committee, and last week the Senate attempted to begin consideration on a “minibus” package of the Agriculture, Transportation-Housing & Urban Development, and Commerce-Justice-Science bills (H.R.4660). However, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) pulled the bill after failing to reach an agreement with Republican leaders on the amendments process.

Both chambers will be on recess next week, returning the week of July 7. Floor action on the State-Foreign Operations bills is not expected in the House or Senate before the August recess. An FY15 Continuing Resolution for most appropriations bill will likely be needed when the fiscal year begins on October 1 and before Congress adjourns in early October for election campaigning. The outcome of the elections will determine whether Congress returns for a post-election lame duck session to finalize FY15 appropriations or waits to act in early 2015 with a new Congress.