September 24, 2019

Senate Appropriators Unveil FY20 State-Foreign Operations Bill

1. Senate Appropriators Unveil FY20 State-Foreign Operations Bill

This week, the Senate Appropriations Committee released its FY20 State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS) bill – bypassing the traditional committee markup process in a failed attempt to bring the bill straight to the Senate floor. As previously mentioned, the Senate SFOPS bill is funded at $55 billion, including $47 billion in base and $8 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).

Adding in funding for international food aid and assuming the FY20 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill holds funding flat for international programs, the Senate provides a total of $56.8 billion for the FY20 International Affairs Budget, a 1.4% ($766 million) increase compared to the FY19 enacted level.

International Affairs Budget Snapshot

FY19 Enacted FY20 Request* FY20 House FY20 Senate**
Base $48.1 billion $43.3 billion $50.4 billion $48.8 billion
OCO $8.0 billion $0 billion $8.0 billion $8.0 billion
Total $56.1 billion $43.3 billion $58.4 billion $56.8 billion

*CBO re-estimate of Administration’s request
** Assumes FY19 enacted levels for Function 150 CJS appropriations

Select Program Highlights

Across the board, the bill rejects the Administration’s proposal to slash funding for nearly all international affairs programs. The report accompanying the bill text includes strong language repudiating the Administration’s proposed budget cuts and recognizing “that diplomacy, development, and democracy are the first line of America’s defense abroad, and indispensable elements of smart power.”

Below are select highlights from the Senate SFOPS bill and report. Next week, USGLC will release a comprehensive analysis comparing the House and Senate proposals alongside the Administration’s request for the FY20 International Affairs Budget.

  • Development and Economic Assistance: The bill rejects the Administration’s proposal to consolidate all State Department and USAID assistance currently provided through four separate accounts. The Democracy Fund sees an increase of 20% ($47 million) compared to the FY19 enacted level while the Economic Support Fund is cut by 6% ($241 million). The bill largely holds funding flat for Assistance to Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia (AEECA); Development Assistance; Millennium Challenge Corporation; and the Peace Corps.
  • Security Assistance: Compared to FY19 enacted levels, the bill cuts Security Assistance by 0.5% ($42 million) for FY20. It increases funding for Nonproliferation, Ant-terrorism, Demining and Related (NADR) programs and International Military Education and Training (IMET) by 11% ($96 million) and 4% ($4 million), respectively. The International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) account sees a 9% ($135 million) cut while Foreign Military Financing (FMF) is held essentially flat at the FY19 enacted level.
  • Global Health: The Senate bill increases funding for Global Health Programs by 3% ($274 million) compared to the FY19 enacted level, in a clear rejection of the Administration’s proposal to cut overall funding for these programs by 28% ($2.49 billion).
  • Humanitarian Assistance: Funding for humanitarian assistance is maintained at the FY19 enacted level of $7.82 billion – a stark contrast to the Administration’s proposal to cut humanitarian assistance by a deep 19% ($1.49 billion).
  • Peacekeeping: Rejecting the Administration’s proposed deep cuts, overall funding for peacekeeping is maintained at the FY19 enacted level of $2.05 billion. The Senate bill reduces funding for non-UN peacekeeping operations by 4% ($17 million) but at the same time increases contributions to UN peacekeeping by 2% ($26 million) compared to FY19 enacted levels, although at this level the U.S. would continue to accumulate arrears.
  • UN and Other International Organizations: Compared to the FY19 enacted level, the bill increases funding for U.S. assessed contributions to the UN and other international organizations by 8% ($114 million), and increases funding for the International Organization and Programs (IO&P) account – which covers voluntary contributions – by 12% ($39 million).
  • Countering Chinese Influence: The Senate bill creates a new Countering Chinese Influence Fund (CCIF) funded at $375 million to increase transparency and accountability around China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
  • International Financial Institutions (IFIs): The bill increases funding for U.S. contributions to the World Bank and other IFIs by 11% ($174 million) compared to the FY19 enacted level. It does not provide funding for the Green Climate Fund

Other Notable Provisions: The Senate SFOPS bill text and accompanying report include strong language focused on oversight, accountability, and impoundment – reflecting a bipartisan commitment to reinforcing Congress’s constitutional power of the purse in the wake of a failed rescission effort this summer targeting the International Affairs Budget. The bill and report:

  • Encourage the “urgent need for updating and amending” the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 – which governs the presidentially-proposed rescission process – to prevent executive overreach.
  • Express concern about the growing Civil Service vacancy and attrition rates at the State Department and USAID and urges staffing above established FY19 targets.
  • Require a national security interest certification and a report to Congress before the State Department submits any proposals to reprogram funds for Afghanistan, Georgia, Pakistan, Syria, Ukraine, and Central American countries.
  • Require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to “evaluate the effectiveness of assistance” for the Northern Triangle to address migration flows to the U.S.
  • Prohibit appropriated funds from being used to “implement the recommendations of any foreign assistance review” until GAO conducts and submits an assessment to Congress.

2. International Food Aid Funding Held Flat in Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill

Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its FY20 Agriculture Appropriations bill following subcommittee approval earlier this week. For the third year in a row, the bill rejects the Administration’s proposal to eliminate two critical international food aid programs – holding their funding flat at FY19 enacted levels. Specifically, the bill provides $1.72 billion for Food for Peace and $210.3 million for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program.

Agriculture Appropriations International Programs Snapshot

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

3. Congress on Track to Pass Short-Term CR, Avoid Government Shutdown

With just five legislative days before the end of the fiscal year and the House and Senate no closer to finalizing the twelve individual spending bills, this week the House approved a Continuing Resolution (CR) that will keep the government open through November 21st. The Senate is expected to pass the CR next week – paving the way for the President’s signature and averting a government shutdown. The CR also extends the authorizations for the Export-Import Bank and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom through November 21st.

With a stopgap funding measure in place, negotiations between House and Senate Appropriators to finalize FY20 spending bills and the all-important 302(b) allocations will continue into the fall.