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USAID Administrator Testifies Before State, Foreign Ops Subcommittee About FY12 Budget, Expresses Concerns About FY11 Budget Cuts

In a hearing regarding the FY12 budget before the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations subcommittee earlier this week, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah highlighted the possible impact of the FY11 budget cuts currently being debated in Congress, Foreign Policy’s “The Cable” blog reports.  

“We estimate, and I believe these are very conservative estimates, that HR 1 would lead to 70,000 kids dying,” Shah said. “Of that 70,000, 30,000 would come from malaria control programs that would have to be scaled back specifically. The other 40,000 is broken out as 24,000 would die because of a lack of support for immunizations and other investments and 16,000 would be because of a lack of skilled attendants at birth,” he said (Rogin, 3/31).

In his prepared testimony, Shah said funding for USAID “will save lives, expand global freedom and opportunity and crucially strengthen America’s national and economic security,” according to a story on America.gov. “With USAID programs supporting development assistance, or better health, or enhanced agricultural productivity, Shah says his agency is also representing the nation’s most important principles. ‘USAID is proud to put American values in action – distributing anti-malarial bed nets donated by school children, supporting faith-based organizations that help ease suffering abroad and engaging all Americans in solving the greatest global challenges and generating results,’ Shah said” (Porter, 3/31).

In response to a comment about proposed cuts to the International Disaster Assistance (IDA) account, Shah said the suggested reduction, which is 67 percent below FY10 levels, “would be, really, the most dramatic stepping back away from our humanitarian responsibilities around the world in decades,” according to “The Cable.”

Subcommittee Chair Kay Granger (R-Texas) “opened the hearing by announcing that the administration’s fiscal 2012 request was dead on arrival,” the blog notes. “While I understand the value of many of these important programs, the funding request for next year is – is truly unrealistic in today’s budget environment,” she said. “Granger said she would support USAID programs that have national security implications or contribute to the ongoing missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan,” the blog reports. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), ranking member of the subcommittee, said, “Drastic cuts to USAID would risk a great deal in stability and security around the world, which could spawn the kinds of threats that cost this country the lives of men and women in uniform and billions in treasure” (3/31).

Ambassador Eric Goosby, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator, testified about global HIV/AIDS funding in the FY12 budget before the committee on Thursday, America.gov writes. Goosby “pointed out that global health programs help stabilize societies where illnesses such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis are so widespread that they have shattered families and communities, orphaned children and increased poverty by disabling young adults. … ‘By meeting the HIV challenge, we have naturally created significant health care system improvements that are important in the struggle against other threats, and we have done so without diluting our focus on our own mission of combating HIV/AIDS,’ Goosby said” (3/31).

Huffington Post Examines How Potential FY11 Budget Cuts Could Affect Family Planning

The House’s FY11 budget bill “would cut all funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which provides family planning and reproductive health services in 150 countries,” according to the Huffington Post, which notes even though HR 1 did not pass the Senate, “Republican lawmakers continue to stand by the spending cuts it called for.”

“HR 1 would also reinstate the Mexico City Policy – also known as the global gag rule – prohibiting all foreign organizations receiving U.S. family planning aid from using such funds to promote or provide abortion services. ‘None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this division for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs for population planning activities or other population assistance may be made available to any foreign nongovernmental organization that promotes or performs abortion, except in cases of rape or incest or when the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term,’ the bill reads.”

The piece looks at the political debate over international family planning funding and looks at recent developments. On Monday, “29 Democratic senators – led by Senator Frank Lautenberg (R-N.J.) – wrote [a letter] to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressing opposition to reinstating the global gag rule,” the website reports (Terkel, 3/31).

Congress Yet To Reach Agreement On FY11 Budget, House Speaker Says

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) “insisted Thursday” that members of Congress had not reached an agreement on spending cuts for the FY11 budget, CQ reports (Young/Goldfarb, 3/31).

“At a news conference, Boehner said lawmakers still have no agreement on a top-line figure for cutting 2011 spending and remain divided over controversial provisions demanded by Republicans that would defund the new healthcare law, Planned Parenthood and other White House policy objectives,” according to The Hill. “There is no agreement on a set of numbers and nothing will be agreed to until everything is agreed to,” Boehner said (Hooper, 3/31).

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