September 13, 2011

International Affairs Budget Update, 9-8-11

1. Senate Unveils FY12 Appropriations Allocations; State-Foreign Operations Funding  $5 Billion Higher than House Level

2. Work of “Super Committee” Gets Underway

3. Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen Introduces UN “Reform” Bill


1. Senate Unveils FY12 Appropriations Allocations; State-Foreign Operations Funding $5 Billion Higher than House Level

The Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday approved the all-important 302(b) allocations for FY12, jumpstarting the Senate appropriations process less than a month before the beginning of the new fiscal year.  The allocations, which were approved by a vote of 29-1, are based on the $1.043 trillion spending cap in the budget deal reached before the August recess, which is $7 billion below current spending but $24 billion above the FY12 House appropriations allocations.

The Senate provides a total of $53.34 billion for the State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill, which incorporates roughly 95% of the International Affairs Budget.  The State-Foreign Operations allocation is divided between $44.64 billion for non-war related programs and $8.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) programs.  This level for non war-related programs is roughly flat compared to current funding for non-war related programs but 9.4% below FY10 levels and 12% below the President’s request.  The Senate allocation is a significant improvement from the House allocation of $39.6 billion for non-war related programs, which is a dramatic 20% cut below FY10 levels and 22% below the President’s request.

Yesterday the Senate Appropriations Committee also passed the FY12 Agriculture appropriations bill, which funds international food assistance programs.  Subcommittee Chairman Kohl (D-WI) spoke about the famine in the Horn of Africa in his opening remarks and noted that the bill includes a slight increase for the P.L. 480 Food for Peace program.  The bill provides $1.562 billion for P.L. 480 and $188 million for the McGovern-Dole Food Program, a combined total of $1.75 billion, which is approximately three percent above current levels. By contrast, the House FY12 Agriculture appropriations bill provides only $1.23 billion for both programs.

Next Steps

The Senate State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee may mark up its appropriations bill the week of September 19.  No further House action on the State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill, which was approved by the Subcommittee on July 27, is expected.  So action will soon shift to conference negotiations between the House and Senate to reconcile final FY12 funding levels for development and diplomacy programs.

At the same time, with very few legislative days remaining before FY12 begins on October 1, Congress will need to quickly pass a continuing resolution (CR) in order to give congressional negotiators more time to reconcile the FY12 appropriations bills. The House is expected to take up a CR the week of September 19, which would likely last until mid-November.  Congressional leaders have indicated their strong preference to conclude the FY12 appropriations process prior to the November 23 deadline for action by the “super committee” (see next story).  Ultimately, Congress is likely to turn to an omnibus appropriations bill or a few “mini-bus” appropriations bills to wrap up FY12.

Yesterday USGLC National Security Advisory Council Co-Chairs Admiral Jim Loy, USCG (Ret.) and General Mike Hagee, USMC (Ret.) – representing more than 100 top retired military leaders – wrote to appropriations leaders and “super committee” members to express their concerns about cuts to development and diplomacy programs.  “As a result of the dramatic reductions to the International Affairs Budget in FY11 and those proposed by the House for FY12 – in some cases more than 30% below current levels – many of the hard-fought gains we have worked to achieve since 9/11 may be reversed,” Loy and Hagee wrote.

2. Work of “Super Committee” Gets Underway

The Special Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction (also known as “the super committee”) will hold its first organizational hearing today, beginning its mandate under the budget deal  to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion over ten years, with its first public hearing next Tuesday, September 13.  As part of the budget deal reached last month, the twelve member committee, co-chaired by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), must vote on its plan by November 23. The super committee members are:


  • Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Co-chair
  • Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)
  • Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)
  • Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
  • Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
  • Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)


  • Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Co-chair
  • Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI)
  • Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI)
  • Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA)
  • Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC)
  • Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

Indications are that the committee, as a starting point to reach the $1.5 trillion in budget savings, is closely eyeing cuts to mandatory programs that were identified by bipartisan negotiators in the talks led by Vice President Biden earlier this summer.  The House and Senate will have until December 23 to act on the super committee’s plan in an up or down vote.  If the super committee fails to make recommendations or Congress does not enact them, automatic spending cuts – known as sequestration – will be triggered (and take effect beginning in January 2013). For this round of cuts, discretionary spending cuts would be divided equally between defense and non-defense programs, with the International Affairs Budget under the non-defense category.

While the impact on the International Affairs Budget is yet to be determined, the presence on the “super committee” of International Affairs Budget champions such as Senator Kerry (D-MA), Senator Murray (D-WA), Senator Portman (R-OH), and Representative Van Hollen (D-MD) is reassuring that voices for robust global engagement will be heard during the committee’s deliberations.

3. Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen Introduces UN “Reform” Bill

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) last week introduced H.R. 2829, the “United Nations Transparency, Accountability and Reform Act of 2011.”  The bill places several conditions on U.S. contributions to the United Nations (UN) in order to bring about policy reforms in the body.  The legislation would cut U.S. contributions by 50 percent unless the U.N. moves to voluntary donations, instead of the current system of assessed dues, within two years.  Among other provisions, the bill:

  • Places a moratorium on new or expanded peacekeeping missions, endangering existing missions in countries such as Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Côte d’Ivoire.
  • Withholds contributions to the Human Rights Council and prevents the U.S. from holding a seat on the Council.
  • Prohibits funding to UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN entity that provides relied-upon assistance to Palestinian refugees.
  • Places restrictions on funding to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the organization responsible for monitoring Iran’s nuclear activities, and weakens our voice in the organization.
  • Suspends funding to UN bodies that do not sign a “transparency certification” pledging additional cooperation with the U.S. Comptroller General to allow congressional oversight of UN activities.  This could lead to revoking funding to global health and humanitarian relief entities such as the World Health Organization, the World Food Program, and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).