CQ Examines Foreign Aid Budget

CQ examines the challenges involved with passing the Obama administration’s FY 2011 “budget request for the State Department and foreign operations.” Though eight former secretaries of state recently urged Congress not to cut foreign aid, “lawmakers and aides involved in the appropriations process say that getting President [Barack] Obama all the money he wants will be a really tough sell.”

Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chair of the House State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, said, “The economic and political environment make this a challenging year to sustain significant increases in foreign aid.” According to Lowey, her panel will focus on “effectiveness, accountability and fiscal responsibility.” CQ continues, “Lowey’s views are shared on the other side of the aisle. ‘I’ll tell you, the mood is so different this year, after all the spending and bailouts and health care,’ said a Republican aide who works on appropriations,” CQ writes.

CQ notes the decision by Senate Budget Chair Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) “to trim $4 billion from the administration’s overall spending … with a suggestion that the savings come from the State-Foreign Operations spending bill.” According to the publication, “[t]he foreign affairs community is not ready to accept less than Obama proposed for next year. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., and ranking Republican Richard G. Lugar of Indiana sent a letter to Conrad calling Obama’s proposed State-Foreign Operations budget ‘essential.’ …  Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate [Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs], has also been advocating for appropriating the full amount requested.”

“The House and Senate Appropriations chairmen – Rep. David R. Obey, D-Wis., and Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii – will ultimately carve up the overall discretionary spending allotment and decide how much to allocate for international aid,” CQ writes (Cadei, 4/30).

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