FY12 State Department Funding Request Cannot Be Fulfilled, House Foreign Ops Committee Chair Says

It “will not be possible” to meet the funding request for the State Department in President Barack Obama’s FY12 budget proposal, Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), chair of the House State-Foreign Operations Subcommittee, said at a hearing on Thursday, CQ reports. However, Granger said there are still ways for the House and State Department to “maintain an effective and efficient diplomatic and development capability.”

She said “plans to increase State and USAID staff, support large multi-year commitments, and boost lending by international banks must be reconsidered,” CQ reports. Despite Granger’s comments, lawmakers on the panel highlighted “a long list of priorities” they would like to be addressed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her department, according to CQ. “The disconnect underscored the task facing U.S. diplomats and development officials responsible for managing a growing list of hot spots amid a likely reduction in funds. … Many Republicans on the committee echoed the call for fiscal austerity. Democrats, in contrast, warned that cuts to the budget request for the rest of fiscal 2011 as well as fiscal 2012 risked being penny-wise but pound-foolish,” the publication writes. “We cannot let our current fiscal crisis create a future security crisis by cutting these invaluable programs,” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said (Cadei, 3/10).

During her testimony, “Clinton defended global health programs,” according to PBS’ NewsHour, which interviewed Granger about the potential cuts to foreign aid. “[I]t’s not a time to increase spending. What we have to do is look very carefully, prioritize, and see what is the most important thing today. We can’t continue to spend at the rate we have in the past. And I believe that very sincerely,” Granger said, adding, “Maternal health is important and our global health is important. But right now, at this time in our nation, we have to look at our national security and particularly in foreign aid, say, what is in our national security interest?” (Woodruff, 3/10).

House Appropriators To Submit New FY11 Continuing Resolution

In an effort to avoid a government shutdown, House appropriators are expected to file a short-term continuing budget resolution on Friday, “with the aim of bringing it to the House floor early next week, probably on March 15. The current funding extension (PL 112-4) expires March 18,” CQ reports in a second article.

Republican appropriators on Thursday said the bill will “contain $2 billion in cuts for each week in funding the measure would provide,” according to CQ. The proposal likely will provide stopgap funding for another “two or three more weeks,” the publication reports (Symes/Lesniewski, 3/10).

“White House officials continued to make the case Thursday that they are fully engaged in the budget standoff raging on Capitol Hill, despite criticisms from both sides of the aisle about their absence,” according to Roll Call. Though Vice President Joseph Biden is traveling, he remains involved in talks, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, noting that Biden called Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday. “The phones work all the way from Moscow to Washington,” he said at a briefing. “We’re very engaged in this process” (Bendery, 3/10).

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