July 26, 2011

International Affairs Budget Update, 7-22-11

1. House Foreign Affairs Committee Passes State Department-Foreign Assistance Authorization Bill

2. House to Begin Action Next Week on FY12 State-Foreign Operations Bill



1. House Foreign Affairs Committee Passes State Department-Foreign Assistance Authorization Bill


After two full days of debate, the House Foreign Affairs Committee completed its markup Thursday of the FY12 State Department-Foreign Relations Authorization Act (HR 2583), and passed the bill 23-20.  Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) stated her intentions with foreign assistance in the bill are to “to move countries from perpetual dependence on foreign donors to sustained economic growth that will lift their populations out of poverty using innovative, efficient methods and public/private partnerships.”  Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA) expressed his concerns about the legislation in his opening statement and called for strong global engagement, saying, “I appreciate the fact that the authorization levels for the State Department and certain foreign assistance are more or less the same as in the fiscal year 2011 budget deal.  But I thought the numbers were too low when the deal was passed, and I continue to believe that today.  As our nation’s top military leaders have said repeatedly, diplomacy and development – along with defense – are the key pillars of our national security strategy.  By shortchanging two of the three legs of that national security stool, we undermine our ability to respond to crises, promote stability, and pursue a wide range of U.S. interests around the world.”

Highlights on Funding Levels

On funding issues, the bill generally maintains authorization levels at current FY11 levels.  In some cases, however, this represents funding far below the FY12 request levels as well as FY10 funding.   Examples in this category include Diplomatic and Consular programs, bilateral economic assistance, USAID Operating Expenses, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC):

  • Diplomatic and Consular Programs: $8.79 billion, $3.1 billion (-26%) below FY12 request
  • USAID Operating Expenses: $1.52 billion, $222 million (-13%) below FY12 request
  • Bilateral Economic Assistance: $21.21 billion, $2.5 billion (-11%) below FY12 request
  • Millennium Challenge Corporation: $900 million, $225 million (-20%) below FY12 request

The only program authorized at levels above FY11 is the State Department’s Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, which would receive nearly triple ($14 million) the level requested for FY12.  The bill also prohibits any funding for USAID’s Office of Budget and Resource Management, an important new office created in 2010 as part of USAID’s reform efforts.  The final bill reduces U.S. contribution to the United Nations and caps U.S. contributions to UN peacekeeping efforts at 25% of the total cost.

Highlights on Policy

On policy issues, the legislation prohibits U.S. assistance to country governments that fail to pass the MCC’s corruption performance indicator, codifies into law (and broadens the scope) of the Global Gag Rule, and places a number of specific restrictions on assistance to countries such as Pakistan, Yemen, Egypt, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority and several Latin American countries.


Numerous amendments were offered during the markup, and several sparked heated debate between committee members.  A particularly controversial amendment offered by Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC) would revoke economic assistance to countries that oppose the U.S. in UN votes more than half the time.  In defending his amendment, Representative Duncan said, “It’s our tax dollars that we’re giving to them, shouldn’t we demand something for that in return? If they want that money, all they’ve got to do is vote with us.”  Speaking for Democrats opposed to the amendment, Representative Gary Ackerman (D-NY) said, “If we’re going to give money only to people who like us, that’s the reason people don’t like us.  It’s bullying. It’s buying. It’s paying off.”

Many of the amendments adopted have an impact on the International Affairs Budget:

  • Mack (R-FL) amendment to defund the Organization of American States (OAS) by cutting $48.5 million authorized in original bill; adopted by a vote of 22-20, with Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) opposing.
  • Poe (R-TX) amendment to cut contributions to the UN regular budget by 25%; adopted by a vote of 23-17.
  • Poe/Duncan amendment requiring the President to post all foreign aid programs online; adopted by voice vote.
  • Manzullo (R-IL) amendment to prohibit funds for USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures (DIV), a program supporting development-oriented innovation projects and a key component of the USAID Forward initiative; adopted by voice vote, with strong opposition by Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Ranking Member Berman.
  • Mack amendment to prohibit funding to Argentina, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia; adopted by a vote of 23-16.
  • Griffin (R-AR) amendment to reduce Bilateral Economic Assistance section by $1.5 million to prohibit funds for USAID’s trilateral assistance program in South Africa; adopted by a vote of 23-19.
  • Duncan amendment revoking bilateral economic assistance for countries that vote against the U.S. in the UN at least 50% of the time; adopted by a vote of 22-18.
  • Berman (D-CA)-Cicilline (D-RI) amendment urging the State Department to encourage religious freedoms in Turkey; adopted by a vote of 43-1.

Attempts to restore funding to the International Affairs Budget – including a Berman amendment to restore funding to the USAID Budget Office – were rebuffed, as were efforts by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) to further limit funds to Pakistan and Iraq.  These amendments include:

  • Payne (D-NJ) amendment to increase funding for UN Peacekeeping missions; failed 17-21.
  • Berman (D-CA) amendment to strike language in the bill codifying into law (and broadening the scope) of the Global Gag Rule; failed 17-25.
  • Berman (D-CA) amendment restoring funding to the USAID Budget and Resource Management Office and requiring the State Department to conduct a QDDR every four years; failed 18-24.
  • Faleomavaega (D-AS) amendment to restore funding to the East-West Center; failed 17-26.
  • Carnahan (D-MO) amendment to remove language capping U.S. contributions to peacekeeping missions to 25%; failed 18-23, as did attempts by Committee Democrats to exempt certain countries (such as Sudan, South Sudan, the Congo, and Haiti) from the cap.
  • Schwartz (D-PA) amendment that would strike language from the bill prohibiting assistance to countries that fail to meet MCC corruption performance indicators; failed 13-23.
  • Rohrabacher (R-CA) amendments eliminating funds to Pakistan and Iraq; both failed 5-39 in a bipartisan show of support for active engagement in frontline states.

Reform Efforts

As part of a broader conversation during the markup about foreign assistance reform and transparency, the Committee unanimously adopted an amendment offered by Ranking Member Berman articulating clear goals for U.S. foreign assistance.  The goals affirmed by the Committee include advancing peace, alleviating poverty and human suffering, building strategic partnerships and promoting sustainable economic growth through trade and investment.  The amendment asserts that “foreign assistance is not only a reflection of the values, generosity and goodwill of the people of the United States, but also an essential means for achieving United States foreign policy, economic, and national security objectives.”  In addition, Representative Poe gained unanimous approval of two amendments to enhance transparency: one to post online all foreign assistance programs and another that urges the President and development agencies to develop clear guidelines for monitoring and evaluating U.S. foreign assistance programs.

2. House to Begin Action Next Week on FY12 State-Foreign Operations Bill


The House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee is moving ahead with its markup of the FY12 bill next Wednesday, July 27.  The Subcommittee’s allocation is $47.2 billion, which is 21% below the President’s FY12 request and would result in a deep 20% cut to non-war related programs from FY 10 levels.  Action by the full Committee is scheduled the following week, with floor action (if at all) not until September.  Additional cutting amendments are likely during the full Committee markup.