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Sen. Appropriations Committee Approves $54.1B FY2011 Foreign Ops Spending Bill, Including $8.2B For Global Health Programs

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved a $54.1 billion FY 2011 spending bill for the State Department and related agencies “that includes potentially controversial abortion language,” CQ reports.

Approved along a “party-line” vote of 18-12, the bill “would provide $54.1 billion in discretionary funding – $5.3 billion more than in fiscal 2010 but $2.6 billion less than President Obama’s request” (Weyl, 7/29).

“Although we could not fully fund the increases requested by the President, this bipartisan bill goes a long way to enhance the capacity of the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development to carry out security, diplomacy and development programs in areas of crucial importance to the United States, particularly in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and the Middle East,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who chairs the Department of State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, said in a statement, according to a Senate Appropriations Committee press release. This bill “also provides new funding to help developing countries deal with climate change, and to support global health, agriculture and food security, disaster relief, and many other security, development and humanitarian needs,” Leahy added (7/29).

Under the bill as approved by committee, “the State Department and related agencies would receive $17.3 billion, $1.4 billion more than in fiscal 2010 and $52 million more than the administration’s fiscal 2011 request,” and USAID would receive “$1.4 billion in operating expenses, $64 million below Obama’s request and $24 million above the fiscal 2010 level,” CQ continues (7/29).

The bill “provides $8.239 billion for Global Health Programs, which is $274 million below the request and $460 million above the FY10 level,” the press release continues. This includes $641 million for child and maternal health; $700 million “from all accounts for family planning and reproductive health programs, including $55 million for [the U.N. Population Fund] UNFPA”; $5.85 billion “to combat HIV/AIDS, which is equal to the president’s request and $141 million above the FY10 level,” and includes “$800 million for the Global Fund, $100 million above the president’s request and the FY10 level.”

The bill also includes $1.3 billion “for food security and agricultural development assistance programs to support the ‘Feed the Future’ initiative, which is $344 million below the request and $130 million above the FY10 level,” according to the press release (7/29).

“As amended by the committee, the bill also would codify an Obama administration order that lifted the Mexico City policy on abortion,” which previously banned U.S. funding for international health groups that use their own funds to perform or promote abortions, CQ adds. “With an executive order, Obama repealed the policy – named for the city where President Ronald Reagan announced it – which was first lifted by President Bill Clinton and re-imposed by President George W. Bush,” CQ explains.

Offered by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), the amendment to permanently repeal the Mexico City policy on abortion was adopted 19-11. “It’s time to put aside the politics on women’s lives,” Lautenberg said of the amendment, according to CQ. “Let them make their decisions. Let them make their choices,” he added.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), who opposed the amendment said, “It’s us funding abortions overseas. … There are a lot of people in the country that find this deeply offensive” (7/29).

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