September 13, 2019

Senate Appropriators Approve 302(b) Allocations, Rejecting Deep Cuts to Development and Diplomacy for Third Straight Year

Fresh off a five-week summer recess and with a bipartisan budget deal in place, this week the Senate Appropriations Committee launched its FY20 appropriations process – approving topline spending levels (known as 302(b) allocations) for its twelve spending bills, including the State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS) bill that funds the vast majority of the International Affairs Budget.

Senate Appropriators provided a total of $55 billion for SFOPS, including $47 billion in base and $8 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. This is a 1.4% ($800 million) increase compared to the FY19 enacted level and is 27% ($11.7 billion) above the Administration’s FY20 budget request.

State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS) Budget Snapshot

FY19 Enacted FY20 Request* FY20 House FY20 Senate
Base $46.2 billion $43.3 billion $48.4 billion $47 billion
OCO $8 billion $0 $8 billion $8 billion
Total $54.2 billion $43.3 billion $56.4 billion $55 billion

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

USGLC released a statement welcoming action by Senate Appropriators to reject deep and disproportionate cuts to the International Affairs Budget and urging lawmakers to strengthen funding levels for diplomacy and development as the House and Senate work to finalize FY20 spending.

As previously reported, earlier this summer the House approved $56.4 billion for its FY20 SFOPS bill – a 4% ($2.2 billion) increase compared to the FY19 enacted level. However, the House approved its 302(b) allocations before Congress reached a bipartisan budget deal that set topline defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending levels for FY20. The House assumed a higher topline for NDD spending than the budget deal allows. As a result, House Appropriators will need to trim some $15 billion from their NDD spending bills – which could potentially impact the SFOPS topline.

It is important to note that the House and Senate funding levels for the FY20 SFOPS bill both fall short of the FY17 total enacted level of $57.4 billion.

Next Steps

The Senate Appropriations Committee was originally scheduled to mark up its FY20 SFOPS bill this week, but the bill was pulled from the agenda due to disagreements over so-called “poison pill” amendments. It could be marked up next week. Senate Appropriators are expected to consider the Agriculture and Commerce-Justice-Science bills – the two bills that fund the remainder of the International Affairs Budget – over the next two weeks.

With just ten legislative days before the fiscal year ends on September 30, it is likely that Congress will need to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government open while the House and Senate work to finalize FY20 spending bills. Bipartisan Members of Congress are eager to prevent another government shutdown and the House is expected to vote next week on a CR that could extend funding until late November, but political considerations and competing priorities could make reaching a deal a challenge.