October 5, 2011

International Affairs Budget Update, 9-29-11

FY12 Continuing Resolution

Today the House passed by unanimous consent a short-term continuing resolution (CR) for FY12, avoiding a government shutdown when FY12 beings tomorrow at midnight.  The CR, which passed the Senate on Monday and only lasts until Oct. 4, eliminates any FY11 disaster funding, which was the sticking point between the two chambers over offsets to pay for that funding.

On Monday, the Senate also passed a six-week CR providing funding through November 18.  The longer-term CR cuts 1.5 percent across-the-board from FY11 levels to meet the $1.043 trillion discretionary spending cap required by the August budget deal.  It also includes $2.65 billion in FY12 disaster funding with no offsets, a compromise brokered between Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader McConnell (R-KY).  The House will take up the longer-term CR next Tuesday when lawmakers return from recess. However, passage of the longer-term CR could be opposed by some House Republicans due to the lack of offsets for disaster funding.

FY12 Appropriations Negotiations

With the start of FY12 on Saturday, House and Senate appropriators will be working hard over the next several weeks to reconcile the FY12 spending bills and sign them into law.  The goal is to wrap up FY12 appropriations, potentially in the form of an omnibus appropriations measure, prior to the November 23 deadline for the Super Committee to report on its recommendations for deficit reduction.  It remains uncertain if congressional leaders will be able to meet that timetable.

In terms of the International Affairs Budget, negotiators need to resolve a $5 billion discrepancy between House and Senate levels for the FY12 State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, as well as a roughly $500 million difference between House and Senate levels for international food aid in the FY12 Agriculture Appropriations Bill.  The Senate’s funding level of $44.64 billion for non-war related “base” programs in the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill is a significant improvement from the House’s level of $39.6 billion – which represents a devastating 20 percent cut from FY10 levels, with even deeper cuts to specific areas such as State and USAID operating expenses and multilateral development assistance.  For international food aid in the FY12 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, the Senate provides $1.75 billion while the House provides $1.23 billion.