Politico Looks At How Proposed Budget Cuts Could Affect U.S. Foreign Aid, Including Global Health Funding

Politico examines how Republicans’ proposed budget cuts could affect foreign aid funding. The House Republican majority has recommended combining President Barack Obama’s “State and foreign aid requests with ‘nonsecurity’ domestic spending and to cut appropriations to 2008 levels.” According to Politico, “[t]he result could be a $16 billion, or nearly one-third, reduction in the resources available to State, which finds itself pitted against domestic programs also facing the ax.”

The proposed reductions are “dramatic,” the publication writes, noting that the House Appropriations Committee’s “target of $32.8 billion from 2008 is really a Christmas 2007 number that doesn’t reflect about $8 billion in emergency foreign aid funds approved separately for fiscal 2008. The opposite is true for 2010, with the committee cutting from a base of $48.7 billion, which includes a greater share of Iraq- and Afghanistan-related appropriations that were previously treated as emergency funds outside the normal budget caps.”

“If adjustments are made at both ends, the better estimate of the gap between 2008 and 2010 appears to be a $14 billion reduction – 26 percent,” Politico notes. A smaller budget could mean “less funding for lower-profile accounts,” especially if “excess 2011 military funds” are not authorized. 

“Most vulnerable are initiatives that hardly existed in 2008 but have since grown to address new issues, like climate change or the high price of food on world markets. The same applies to the estimated 2,170 foreign and civil service personnel added since 2008, and among global health accounts, maternal and child health programs are in similar straits, having grown substantially since 2008,” Politico reports. For PEPFAR, “[t]urning back the clock to 2008” would mean its budget would undergo a 14 percent reduction, according to Politico. Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.); P.J. Crowley, State Department’s spokesperson; Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance; and John Fawcett, global legislative director for the health group Results are quoted in the article (Rogers, 2/1).

On Tuesday, President Obama told his cabinet that his not-yet-released FY2012 budget proposal “will provide a responsible 10-year path for reining in the deficit,” the White House said in a readout of Obama’s meeting with the cabinet, Reuters reports. “Beyond simply reducing government spending, the president emphasized the need to reform and reorganize the government so it operates smarter and more efficiently,” the White House said. Obama’s budget is expected to be released on Feb. 14. Obama said it will include “tough choices” (2/1).

Meanwhile, “Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) called for a summit between congressional leaders and top officials in the Obama administration to craft a solution to ease the country’s budget woes,” the Wall Street Journal’s “Real Time Economics” blog reports.  

“The lawmaker said the summit should convene before Congress is forced to act to pass an increase in the nation’s borrowing limit, something he said would likely occur in May. ‘If we want to send a signal that America is going to face up to this … then the leaders of America should get together and come up with that plan,’ Conrad said” (Boles, 2/1).

Expected Senate Foreign Ops Subcommittee Ranking Member Says He Will Fight To Maintain Foreign Aid Funding

In related news, Foreign Policy’s blog “The Cable” interviews Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is “widely expected to soon be named the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations’ State and Foreign Operations subcommittee.” According to the blog, Graham is “willing and able to fight for maintaining the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development budgets.”

“If you don’t want to use military force any more than you have to, count me in,” Graham said on Tuesday. “State Department, USAID, all of these programs, in their own way, help win this struggle against radical Islam. The unsung heroes of this war are the State Department officials, the [Department of Justice] officials, and the agricultural people who are going out there,” he said. “To those members who do not see the value of the civilian partnership in the war on terror, I think they are making a very dangerous decision,” Graham said.

“This is the problem with the Republican Party, there are some Republicans who want to eliminate foreign aid. The world we live in takes a multifaceted approach,” according to Graham. The blog notes that Graham will work with subcommittee chair Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to boost State Department and USAID funding for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq and also intends to fight for “diplomatic and development activities in non-warzones, such as Africa, Latin America, and dealing with AIDS, poverty, hunger, maternal health, etc.”

“To the American taxpayer: We need to be investing in improving people’s lives before the terrorists try to take over,” the senator said. “Stay ahead of them, not with 100,000 troops all the time, but by partnering with people who will live in peace with us. The worst nightmare for al Qaeda is to come into a community that feels supported and has hope,” he said (Rogin, 2/1).

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