Congress Moves To Consider Foreign Aid Spending Cuts

On Thursday, House Republicans are expected to “announce fiscal 2011 spending caps,” CQ reports. “Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., is slated to reveal the top-line discretionary spending limits … for the remainder of the fiscal year under unprecedented power that the GOP majority gave him in January. House leaders have said they are aiming to make $55 billion to $60 billion in cuts, while a more conservative faction is pushing for $100 billion in cuts. It is unclear where Ryan’s numbers will fall,” the publication reports.

Next week, Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) is expected to release a draft bill “that would make the cuts called for by Ryan’s budget numbers and fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.”

The article also looks at how the budget might fare in the Democrat-controlled Senate. “We’ll have to wait and see what comes from the House,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said. “[C]ongressional Democrats and the Obama administration are unlikely to accede to the level of cuts Republicans are expected to propose, possibly making for a long fight ahead. Senate Democrats eventually may be persuaded to agree to some cuts, especially with more than 20 members of their caucus seeking re-election in 2012” (Young, 2/2).

In related news, “House Republican leadership is looking to vote next week to cut either U.S. spending on the United Nations or on foreign aid, the office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced Wednesday,” The Hill’s “On The Money” blog reports. The public can vote on three options for the budget cuts, which are posted on the Republicans’ “YouCut” website. “Cantor has pledged to bring the winner to the floor for a vote,” according to the blog.

“The first option … would forbid the U.S. from spending aid on any foreign country that holds more than $50 million in U.S. government debt. … The last two options involve seeking refunds from the United Nations for unspent contributions,” according to “On The Money.” One would call for the U.S. to reclaim $180 million from a U.N. tax equalization fund, while the other would ask for “repayment of funds left over from closed peacekeeping operations,” the blog writes (Wasson, 2/2).

Leaders Discuss Importance Of U.S. Foreign Aid

At a U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) event on Wednesday to honor former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “said U.S. aid policy had a raft of benefits for the country, ranging from stabilizing poor countries before they become security risks to building new markets for U.S. exports as developing countries grow,” Reuters reports. “‘Any claim that foreign assistance to the poorest countries is just money down a rat hole simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny,’ Gates said, pointing to the eradication of smallpox, decreasing infant mortality and advances in agricultural productivity as key milestones” (Quinn, 2/2).

“Ridge, a businessman who served under Republican president George W. Bush, said aid complemented U.S. military missions by promoting a more compassionate image of the superpower. ‘As we promote America, I look at it as a product. We have something real special to sell, but the brand of that product is our value system,'” Ridge said, according to the Agence France-Presse.

Albright, who served under former President Bill Clinton said, “We won’t be able to rely on other countries to fight the extraordinary dangers that most threaten us unless we help the global majority fight the chronic problems that confront them each and every day,” according to the article (2/2).

In an interview with Reuters, Gates “said Republican calls to narrow the yawning U.S. budget deficit by slashing overseas aid could weaken the U.S position” (2/2).

Albright and Ridge co-chair the USGLC’s putting Smart Power to Work campaign, according to a press release (2/3).

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