Last week, the House State and Foreign Operations Committee approved an international affairs budget that endangers critical global diplomatic and development initiatives:
The Republican-controlled House Foreign Aid Subcommittee slashed the budget for foreign aid and contributions to international organizations including the United Nations yesterday, failing to meet the Obama administration’s requests on most line items.
The exact effects of the cuts are impossible to know, but the U.S.’ role in the world and international organizations will certainly be curtailed. It’s not even clear how the lead foreign aid vehicle — the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) — will be able to stay afloat with the budget for its operating expenses (paying salaries and keeping the lights on) amounting to less than two thirds of what the administration asked for. At $982 million, that’s a 27 percent decrease from USAID operations spending last year.
The US Global Leadership Council highlighted how the international affairs budget is bearing the brunt of budget cuts, despite the fact that it makes up just 1.5% of the federal budget:
“Too often, Washington voices have called reductions in increased spending a cut, but this mark represents a very real 20% cut in our nation’s ability to respond to crises throughout the world,” said former Congressman and Ambassador Mark Green. “Our top military leaders are adamant that International Affairs programs are a critical to our national security. Our top business leaders are adamant that these programs are critical to our economic future. I’ve seen firsthand how these programs work beyond the frontline states and these cuts will seriously restrict our ability to keep Americans safe and advance our economic interests.” Green pointed to an irony in some of the cuts, noting “long overdue bipartisan reforms are beginning, and these cuts could slow these important efforts.”
The debate now moves over to the Senate, where there is generally much stronger support for a robust international affairs budget, including from key leaders like Foreign Relations Committee Chair Sen. John Kerry. Our advocacy efforts over the summer will focus on building up the pressure on the Senate to set a high mark for diplomacy and development spending and take a strong stand in negotiations with House Republicans over the final numbers. Click here to contact your senators and urge them to support full funding for these programs that help improve lives around the globe and prevent and end costly conflicts.