April 30, 2010

International Affairs Budget Update

April 30, 2010

1. More on Senate Budget Committee’s FY 11 Budget Resolution; Future Action Uncertain

As reported last week, the Senate Budget Committee on April 22nd cut $4 billion (7%) from the President’s $58.8 billion International Affairs Budget request in its FY 11 budget resolution.  This was the Committee’s entire cut in discretionary spending and is a significant reduction considering the President’s FY 11 request is basically flat-line with likely total FY 10 funding (when accounting for forward funding from FY 09 and the pending FY 10 supplemental requests for Haiti and the “Frontline States” of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan).  See this USGLCfactsheet for more information.

2. House Still Undecided on Whether to Move a Budget Resolution

Little has changed since last week’s update on the prospects for House action on the budget resolution. High-level discussions are continuing among Democratic leaders about whether to move forward on a formal resolution or a simpler budget “deeming” provision.  Part of the delay centers around disagreements between the Progressives and Blue Dogs over funding priorities, with the more fiscally conservative Blue Dogs pushing for a reduction in non-security discretionary spending.  Members of both groups support have sent letters to the House leadership in support of fully funding the President’s International Affairs Budget Request. (Progressive and Blue Dog letters).

3. Senate Passes State Department Authorization bill

For the first time since 2005, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a State Department Reauthorization bill on April 27th. S. 2971, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2010-2011, was passed by the Committee on April 27th by voice vote, indicating strong bipartisan support for U.S. development and diplomacy programs.

The House passed a largely similar version of the bill (H.R. 2410) last June by a vote of 235 –187.  Further Senate action on the measure is not anticipated in the short term.

4. Former Secretaries of State Urge Congress to Back International Affairs Budget

In a powerful demonstration of bipartisan unity, all eight former Secretaries of State wrote to Congress on Tuesday urging them to support the President’s $58.8 billion FY 11 International Affairs Budget request.  From both Democratic and Republican Administrations, former Secretaries Rice, Powell, Albright, Christopher, Eagleburger, Baker, Shultz and Kissinger stated that “we know from our collective experience that these strategic tools are essential to achieving our goals of protecting national security, building economic prosperity, and providing humanitarian assistance.”  “We urge you to support the funding level proposed by President Barack Obama for the International Affairs Budget,” the Secretaries concluded “and to oppose any effort to cut that request.”