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Senate Foreign Relations Committee To Mark Up $3.5B Haiti Reconstruction Bill

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday is expected to mark up a bill that would “authorize $3.5 billion in reconstruction funds for Haiti over five years” and would also require USAID “to submit a long-term reconstruction plan to Congress as well as mandate the president to appoint a senior policy coordinator for Haiti,” The Hill reports (Bogardus, 5/23).

“Lawmakers are attempting to balance a bipartisan consensus to invest heavily in rebuilding the earthquake-ravaged country with some members’ deep-seated doubts about the capabilities” of USAID, Congressional Quarterly writes. To ease concerns about the agency’s role in helping with Haiti’s rebuilding, “senators are focused on a series of reporting requirements in the bill, which is cosponsored by Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Tennessee Republican Bob Corker.” The legislation would require annual reports on the agency’s long-term strategy and a Government Accountability Office review as well as “create a new position – senior Haiti coordinator – reporting directly to the secretary of State,” CQ reports (Cadei, 5/24).

Joint Chiefs Of Staff Chairman Sends Letters To House, Senate Leaders Criticizing Budget Cuts

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Michael Mullen has sent “separate letters to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA,” criticizing the “$4 billion cut that Sen. Kent Conrad, D-ND, proposed for the fiscal 2011 budget request in his budget resolution,” Foreign Policy’s blog “The Cable” reports. 

“We are living in times that require an integrated national security program with budgets that fund the full spectrum of national security efforts, including vitally important pre-conflict and post-conflict civilian stabilization programs,” Mullen wrote. “Diplomatic programs are critical to our long-term security.” The blog notes that Mullen joins several Department of Defense colleagues, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates as well as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in criticizing the cuts (Rogin, 5/24).

CQ Weekly Examines Capitol Hill Budget Cycle

CQ Weekly examines the Congressional budget cycle and how the process and delays affect the implementation of policy. “The budget cycle is slow already – agency planning tends to begin about 12 months before the start of a new fiscal year – but one reason changes in government programs often occur long after they are proposed is that Congress doesn’t make spending decisions in a timely way. One job lawmakers are clearly given by the Constitution is to decide how to appropriate money. Increasingly, however, appropriations aren’t enacted until months after the budget year begins. Meanwhile, agencies limp along with stopgap spending provided at prior-year levels by short-term continuing resolutions,” the news service writes.

Part of the article looks at budget delays’ impact on global health. It notes that “a delay in appropriations for fiscal 2011 will mean that some insecticide-treated mosquito nets intended to prevent malaria will be hung in African houses months later than they might have been” (Young, 5/24). 

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