International Food Aid Programs See Boost in House Agriculture Appropriations Bill

1. International Food Aid Programs See Boost in House Agriculture Appropriations Bill

Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee approved its FY20 Agriculture Appropriations bill following approval at the subcommittee level late last month. The bill not only rejects the Administration’s proposal to eliminate two critical international food aid programs, it significantly increases funding for these programs above the FY19 enacted levels at a time when global hunger is on the rise. Specifically, the bill includes:

  • $1.85 billion for Food for Peace, a $134 million (7.8%) increase compared to the FY19 enacted level.
  • $235 million for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, an increase of $24.7 million (11.7%) compared to the FY19 enacted level.

Agriculture Appropriations International Programs Snapshot

FY18 Enacted FY19 Enacted FY20 Request FY20 House
Food for Peace/PL 480 Title II $1.72 billion $1.72 billion $0 $1.85 billion
McGovern-Dole $207.6 million $210.3 million $0 $235 million
Total $1.92 billion $1.93 billion $0 $2.09 billion

2. House Appropriators Approve 4% Increase for International Affairs Budget

With yesterday’s approval of the FY20 Agriculture Appropriations bill, the House Appropriations Committee has completed work on the three spending bills that fund the International Affairs Budget – the State-Foreign Operations, Agriculture, and Commerce-Justice-Science bills.

In a clear rejection of the Administration’s proposed deep and disproportionate cuts to America’s development and diplomacy programs, House Appropriators provided a total of $58.4 billion for the FY20 International Affairs Budget – $2.3 billion (4%) above the FY19 enacted level of $56.1 billion, but still short of the FY17 total enacted level of $59.1 billion. This includes $50.4 billion in base funding and $8 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding.

International Affairs Budget Snapshot

FY18 Enacted FY19 Enacted FY20 Request* FY20 House
Base $43.9 billion $48.1 billion $43.3 billion $50.4 billion
OCO $12 billion $8 billion $0 $8 billion
Total $55.9 billion $56.1 billion $43.3 billion $58.4 billion

*Administration’s FY20 request as re-estimated by the Congressional Budget Office

What’s Next

Next week, the House is expected to begin floor consideration of its FY20 appropriations bills on the floor starting with a five-bill “minibus.” The minibus will contain the State-Foreign Operations bill along with the Defense, Labor-HHS-Education, Energy-Water, and Legislative Branch spending bills. House Democratic leadership will likely employ a similar strategy for floor consideration of the remaining seven FY20 spending bills.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to take up any of its FY20 spending bills. Subcommittee mark-ups could begin later this month, but Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) has said he does not expect floor action before the July 4 recess. With the end of the fiscal year quickly approaching, Congressional leaders and the Administration will need to reach a bipartisan budget deal that raises discretionary spending caps in order to finalize FY20 spending and prevent a government shutdown.

3. Bipartisan Global Development and Diplomacy Legislation Advances in the House

With strong bipartisan leadership from House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Ranking Member Mike McCaul (R-TX), the House has recently taken action on several bipartisan bills that seek to strengthen America’s development and diplomacy programs. Last month, the House overwhelmingly approved two bills championed by Chairman Engel and Ranking Member McCaul:

  • Global Fragility Act (H.R. 2116). Passed by voice vote on May 20. The bill would establish a strategy and inter-agency initiative to reduce and address the causes of violence in fragile states.
  • Championing American Business Through Diplomacy Act (H.R. 1704). Passed by voice vote on May 20. The bill would establish a strategy and inter-agency initiative to reduce and address the causes of violence in fragile states.

A number of other bills focused on strengthening and enhancing foreign assistance programs have also seen House action in recent months, including:

  • United States-Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act (H.R. 2615). Led by Reps. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Mike McCaul (R-TX), the bill authorizes U.S. foreign assistance to Central America to address the root causes of migration and requires the State Department and USAID to take action to promote economic growth, combat corruption, improve security and strengthen democratic institutions in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The bill was approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on May 22.
  • Digital Global Access Policy (GAP) Act (H.R. 1359). Introduced by Reps. Ron Wright (R-TX) and Ted Lieu (D-CA), the bill would promote Internet access and connectedness in developing countries. The bill passed the House on May 20.