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Conservative Republicans Officially Release Funding Reduction Plan That Includes Cutting USAID Budget

Foreign Policy’s blog “The Cable” reports on Thursday’s call by a group of “conservative House Republicans … for a drastic defunding of the U.S. Agency for International Development and a host of other programs” (Rogin, 1/20).

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), chairman of the RSC Budget and Spending Task Force, and Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, unveiled the plan, known as the Spending Reduction Act, according to a press release from the RSC (1/20). DeMint is “expected to offer a Senate version of the legislation,” according to “The Cable.”

The RSC plan proposes trimming $1.39 billion annually from the agency’s budget. The blog reports that “[t]he USAID operating budget for fiscal 2010 was approximately $1.65 billion. The RSC spending plan summary was not clear if all the cuts would come from operations or from USAID administered programs.”

“Under your leadership during the campaign, House Republicans boldly pledged to cut federal spending by $100 billion by returning current spending back to FY2008 levels,” read a letter to House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), which was also circulated on Thursday. “Despite the added challenge of being four months into the current fiscal year, we still must keep our $100 billion pledge to the American people,” the letter said, which noted that the current continuing resolution (CR) for FY 2011 will expire on March 4th.

The plan isn’t likely to be implemented, but if it were, “the State Department would be in the firing line for huge cuts,” according to the blog. “The RSC plan is so drastic and extends its projected cuts so far out into the future that its chances for implementation are slim to none, [Tom Donnelly, director of the American Enterprise Institute’s Center for Defense Studies,] said,” the blog reports (1/20).

CQ Examines Leadership Humanitarian Issues Leadership Vaccuum On Capitol Hill


CQ reports on how human rights’ advocates are responding to the departures of Senators Russ Feingold and Sam Brownback. “After joining the Senate in the 1990s, the unlikely pair – a pugnacious Wisconsin progressive and a devout Kansas Catholic who dubs his political philosophy ‘pro-life, whole life’ – became among the most prolific and effective activists for humanitarian issues, particularly for sub-Saharan Africa, in the chamber’s recent history,” CQ writes. The loss of Feingold and Brownback “has left a leadership void on Capitol Hill, and human rights groups are looking to the Senate’s freshman class to fill it,” CQ writes.

The article lists several members of Congress, who advocates hope, will champion humanitarian issues. “Some advocates are pinning their hopes on two freshman Republicans. Both John Boozman of Arkansas and Mark Steven Kirk of Illinois have established their credentials as effective champions on humanitarian issues during their careers in the House. They served on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and representatives of humanitarian groups say they would love to see them fill open slots on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee or the Senate Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the State Department and foreign aid. Outside groups are also looking to Maryland Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin, who was next in line to Feingold on the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, to take command of the panel the same way his predecessor did,” the publication writes.

The article also discusses advocates’ desire to have bipartisan support and the different challenges that come with finding allies in the House versus the Senate. It notes the role of experienced supporters of humanitarian issues, such as Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) (Cadei, 1/17). 

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