Budget Cuts Could Damage Obama Administration’s Plans To Beef Up State Department, USAID

Due to Congress’ proposals to cut spending for the State Department, the Obama administration is increasingly looking toward new funding mechanisms, referred to as blended funds, that pull from Defense Department budgets for activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, CQ reports. But that strategy could “undercut the Obama administration’s efforts to create a more robust State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)” and “create significant congressional oversight challenges,” the news service adds. 

The article looks at why the fund was created and examines how the current budget debate is contributing to the State Department’s funding challenges. “The brainchild of Defense and State, the fund was created as a way to address the urgent need to complete large development projects … on a far shorter timeline than State is used to,” according to CQ. However, one senior congressional staffer said the fund creates “a three-ring circus” of congressional, State and Defense personnel. “Although the blended funds are important tools, they also could, in the end, undermine the very agency they were designed to bolster, aides said,” CQ reports (Oliveri, 3/11).

House Republicans Introduce Three-Week CR

“With backing from Senate Democrats, House Republicans on Friday unveiled a three-week continuing resolution [CR] that would cut another $6 billion in federal spending and keep the government running through April 8,” Roll Call reports. The bill, which was introduced by Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), “includes $3.5 billion in programmatic cuts and eliminates $2.6 billion in earmarked accounts” (Hunter, 3/11).

The House is expected to approve the CR this week, and “the Senate expected to follow suit,” according to National Journal. “Negotiations will then continue on another short-term spending bill” (Strohm, 3/13). “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Sunday that they would support House Republicans’ three-week continuing resolution to stave off a government shutdown,” a second Roll Call article reports (Brady, 3/13).

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