Short-Term CR Introduced, Zika Response Gets $1.1 Billion Boost, & Bipartisan Success Story

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

Next Steps

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:

  • Foreign Aid Transparency & Accountability Act Signed into Law (H.R.3766). The bill, which was signed into law on July 15th and led by Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) in the Senate, ensures that U.S. foreign assistance programs will continue to be effective, accountable, and results-driven.
  • Global Food Security Act Signed into Law (S.1252) Signed into law on July 20th, the bill, led by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Betty McCollum (D-MN), authorizes a whole-of-government global food security strategy to combat chronic hunger and malnutrition around the world.
  • END Wildlife Trafficking Act Headed to President’s Desk (H.R.2494). Passed through Congress on September 21st and ready for the President’s signature, the bill would strengthen efforts to counter illegal wildlife poaching and trafficking. Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) have led this legislation in the House and Senate respectively.
  • Global Development Lab Act Passes the House (H.R.3924). Approved by voice vote on September 21st, the bill would authorize USAID’s Global Development Lab and its focus on science and innovation to end poverty. Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) are leading the legislation in the House and Senate respectively.
  • Education for All Act Passes the House (H.R.4481). Passed by voice vote on September 7th and led by Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) in the Senate, the bill would authorize a comprehensive strategy to promote quality universal basic education.
  • AGOA Enhancement Act Passes the House (H.R.2845). Approved by voice vote on September 7th and led by Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY), the bill would make improvements to AGOA and permit eligible countries to enter into concurrent compacts with the Millennium Challenge Corporation if certain criteria apply.
  • Digital GAP Act Passes the House (H.R.5537). Passed by voice vote on September 7th and also led by Reps. Royce and Engel, the bill seeks to provide first-time internet access for at least 1.5 billion people in developing countries by 2020.