November 12, 2020

Senate Appropriators Unveil FY21 State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill

This week, the Senate Appropriations Committee released all 12 of its FY21 appropriations bills including the FY21 State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS) bill. This approach bypassed the traditional committee markup process as Congress races to finish FY21 Appropriations before government funding runs out on December 11th.

1. Senate Appropriators Unveil FY21 State-Foreign Operations Bill

Senate Appropriators provided a total of $55.2 billion for SFOPS, including $47.2 billion in base and $8 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. Relative to the 11 other appropriations bills released by the Senate, topline funding for SFOPS was not reduced. This is a 23% ($10.5 billion) increase over the Administration’s FY21 request for SFOPS, however, it falls 1% ($753 million) below the House level for non-emergency funding. Moreover, while the House bill provided $10 billion in emergency funding for the COVID-19 response, the Senate bill included no COVID-related emergency funding.

State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS) Budget Snapshot

FY20 Enacted FY21 Request FY21 House FY21 Senate
Base $46.7 billion $44.7 billion $47.9 billion $47.2 billion
OCO $8.0 billion $0 $8.0 billion $8.0 billion
Total $54.7 billion* $44.7 billion $55.9 billion* $55.2 billion*

*Pending COVID-related supplementals in the House and Senate also include, respectively, $10 billion and $4.4 billion in international affairs funding. Some $2.7 billion in such funding was enacted in FY20.

USGLC released a statement recognizing the strong support for our nation’s development and diplomacy programs in the Senate FY21 SFOPS bill and urging Congress additionally to support $20 billion in emergency global resources for COVID-19. As USGLC noted in our House FY21 SFOPS Analysis, we cannot lose sight of the immediate and urgent needs to address this pandemic threat. That is why it will be critical for Congress to prioritize emergency resources in any upcoming supplemental as well as in FY21 spending bills.

Select Highlights
For the fourth consecutive year, the Senate rejected the Administration’s disproportionate cuts to nearly all international affairs programs. The report accompanying the bill text also included strong language repudiating the Administration’s proposed budget cuts and embracing “the strategic objective of maintaining and strengthening U.S. primacy and leadership in international affairs.”

Below are select highlights from the Senate SFOPS bill and report. Soon, the USGLC will release a comprehensive analysis comparing the House and Senate proposals alongside the Administration’s request for the FY21 International Affairs Budget.

  • Development and Economic Assistance: The Senate bill rejected the Administration’s proposal to consolidate Development Assistance (DA) and the Economic Support Fund (ESF) into a new Economic Support and Development Fund (ESDF). Senate Appropriators increased funding for ESF by 6% ($203 million) compared to FY20 enacted levels but reduced funding for DA by 11% ($400 million). Assistance to Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia (AEECA) was also reduced by 6% ($49 million) and Peace Corps funding was cut by 12% ($51 million). The Millennium Challenge Corporation received a slight, 0.8% ($7 million) boost.
  • Global Health: In a rejection of the Administration’s proposed 34% cut ($3.1 billion), the Senate bill increased funding for Global Health Programs by 1% ($161 million) compared to the FY20 enacted level.
  • Humanitarian Assistance: Funding for humanitarian assistance was held at the FY20 enacted level of $7.83 billion. The Administration proposed to cut humanitarian assistance by 20% ($1.56 billion).
  • Peacekeeping: The Senate bill reduced funding for non-UN peacekeeping operations by 11% ($51 million) and cut U.S. contributions to UN peacekeeping by 5% ($85 million), compared to FY20 enacted levels. While significant, these reductions are far less severe than the cuts of 37% and 29%, respectively, proposed by the Administration for these two programs.
  • UN and Other International Organizations: Compared to the FY20 enacted level, the Senate bill increased funding for U.S. assessed contributions to the UN and other international organizations by 0.4% ($6 million), while cutting funding for the International Organization and Programs (IO&P) account – which covers voluntary contributions – by 9% ($35 million).
  • International Financial Institutions (IFIs): The Senate bill decreased overall funding for U.S. contributions to IFIs by 2% ($36 million) compared to the FY20 level.
  • Development Finance Corporation (DFC): The Senate bill provided $821 million for administrative expenses and program costs for the DFC, including $450 million for equity financing, marking a $520 million increase from the FY20 enacted level.

Other Notable Provisions:
COVID-19 Emergency Funding: While the Senate SFOPS bill included no emergency supplemental resources for COVID-19 relief, it did include language recognizing that “future supplemental appropriations vehicles” may be required to address the global pandemic.

The Senate bill also included strong language focused on personnel, oversight and accountability, and program and strategy implementation. The bill and report:

  • Expressed concern with high vacancy and attrition rates for personnel at the State Department and USAID and included language commending efforts to rebuild hiring capacity.
  • Required any “programmatic, funding, or organizational changes” resulting from a foreign assistance or global health review to be subject to committee consultation.
  • Required the State Department and USAID to brief the Committee on plans for implementing the Global Fragility Act.
  • Called for the development of an “interagency strategy to prevent, detect, and respond to zoonotic infectious disease outbreaks,” led by the Secretary of State and USAID Administrator in consultation with the CDC and other agencies.

2. Funding Maintained for International Food Aid in Senate FY21 Agriculture Appropriations Bill

The Senate also released its FY21 Agriculture Appropriations bill this week. Senate Appropriators once again rejected the Administration’s proposal to eliminate two critical international food aid programs. Instead, both programs were held flat at their FY20 enacted levels, including $1.73 billion for Food for Peace, and $220 million for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program.

Agriculture Appropriations International Programs Snapshot

FY20 Enacted FY21 Request FY21 House FY21 Senate
Food for Peace/PL 480 Title II $1.73 billion $0 $1.78 billion $1.73 billion
McGovern-Dole $220 million $0 $235 million $220 million
Total $1.95 billion $0 $2.01 billion $1.95 billion