1. Short-term CR Introduced: Vote Expected Next Week
This week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) released a FY17 Continuing Resolution (CR) that would fund the government through December 9th. While there are several issues that lawmakers would still like to see added to the bill, a vote is expected early next week.
Some Democrats, including Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), have expressed opposition to the CR as it stands, in part because it does not include funding to address the tainted-water crisis in Flint, MI. While others, like State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC), have expressed concern that a provision related to the Export-Import Bank Board of Directors was not included in the legislation. Lawmakers will have to come to an agreement before September 30th or risk a government shutdown.
In terms of the International Affairs Budget, the current proposal includes about $54.4 billion, with $39.5 billion in base funding and $14.9 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. This is slightly below current levels and close to the total requested by the Administration for FY17. The slight cut comes from a 0.496% across-the-board cut to defense and non-defense discretionary programs to align with the discretionary spending caps. Notably, the cut only applies to base funding, not OCO funding.
International Affairs Budget Snapshot
|FY16 Enacted||FY17 Request||FY17 House||FY17 Senate||FY17 CR|
|Base||$39.7 billion||$39.4 billion||$39.1 billion||$39.2 billion||$39.5 billion|
|OCO||$14.9 billion||$14.9 billion||$14.9 billion||$14.9 billion||$14.9 billion|
|Total||$54.6 billion||$54.3 billion||$54.0 billion||$54.1 billion||$54.4 billion|
The Senate is scheduled to vote on the CR early next week and the House will quickly follow suit before recessing for the election. Upon lawmakers return to Washington after the election, they will have until December 9th to pass a final spending bill for FY17.
2. Zika Response Efforts Receive $1.1 Billion Boost in CR
After seven months of partisan fighting, Republicans and Democrats have finally come to agreement to provide $1.1 billion to combat the Zika virus, $780 million less than the Administration’s original request. The provision is included in the Continuing Resolution (CR) that lawmakers are expected to pass next week. Of the $1.1 billion total, approximately $175 million (or 16%) is for the State Department and USAID—of which $146 million is for Global Health Programs and $30 million is for State and USAID Operations. Notably, about $400 million of the funding for Zika is offset with rescissions from prior-year funds, including from the Affordable Care Act and the State/USAID Ebola balances.
Funding to address the Zika virus had been roiled by partisan disputes for months, centered on funding for Planned Parenthood affiliates in Puerto Rico and environmental permits for pesticide spraying. To date, funding to combat Zika has been paid for by using unspent funding from Ebola, and from other programs with the Department of Health and Human Services.
3. Bipartisan Success Story: Foreign Assistance Bills
Since July, Congress has passed numerous bills to authorize and strengthen international affairs programs in what has otherwise been a fairly partisan and slow-moving environment on Capitol Hill. In an op-ed in TIME Magazine last week, USGLC President and CEO Liz Schrayer praised Congress for its success in moving important foreign assistance legislation, noting “this is smart aid at its best.”
Below are several foreign assistance bills that have seen congressional action in the past few months. Congratulations to all the Senators and Representatives who have sponsored and co-sponsored these important efforts to advance America’s global interests: