The Senate Budget Committee approved
a resolution Thursday that cuts the foreign affairs budget by $4 billion, to
the chagrin of everyone else involved in the foreign affairs budget debate.
"Our objectives in Afghanistan,
Pakistan, and Iraq and the civilian component of our national security strategy
depend on a strong budget and these cuts are an enormous mistake," Senate
Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, D-MA, said in a statement, "In this
difficult budget climate, we all have to make tough choices, but the
international affairs account is a smart, cost-effective investment that should
be funded appropriately. Short-changing these programs delivers very little
budget relief at enormous cost to our global efforts and America's leadership
in the world."
The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition
compiled the letters calling for a robust foreign affairs budget on its
website, which included signatures from over 150 representatives and 31
Defense Secretary Robert Gateswrote to Senate Budget
Committee chairman Kent Conrad, D-ND, on Wednesday calling on him to fully fund
the administration's $58.5 billion request for State and USAID for fiscal 2011.
"I believe that full funding of
these two budget accounts is necessary for our national security and for
ensuring our continued leadership in the world," Gates wrote.
Secretary of State Hillary Clintonwrote to Conrad on
Tuesday to point out that the increases requested are relatively modest and
go mostly to supporting the increased State and USAID role in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Full funding in FY11 will allow us
to continue making tangible progress in securing the hard fought gains achieved
in Iraq, and to continue supporting and deploying hundreds of civilians in
Afghanistan and Pakistan to help stabilize dangerous but improving situations,"
The budget request still has many
twists and turns to go through before it finally comes out on the other side of
the legislative process. The House appropriations committee is expected to mark
up its appropriations bill in May. And while it's possible appropriators could
restore funds, that's going to be a difficult sell in a year where the fiscal
outlook is not good and the political focus is on domestic problems.
going to be a strong an advocate as we can be, but with 10 percent
unemployment, urgent needs at home, a trillion-dollar budget deficit, and focus
on creating jobs, there is no doubt that these factors make it a difficult
political environment for expanding our foreign assistance and development
budgets," Rep. Nita Lowey, D-NY, the chairwoman of the House
Appropriations State and Foreign Operations subcommittee, told The Cable
Following the highest-level meeting yet on Barack Obama's
as-yet-unsettled development policy, there is still no resolution of some key
differences between the State Department and the National Security Council,
multiple sources told The Cable.
The meeting came as some in the development community
expressed a mix of encouragement at the high-level attention and frustration at
the administration's failure thus far to express a clear vision laying out the
overarching goals of U.S. development policy.
The Tuesday Deputies Committee meeting was supposed to
resolve differences between State's overall policy review, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), led by Deputy Secretary Jack Lew and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, with heavy input from
Policy Planning chief Anne-Marie Slaughter, and the NSC's Presidential Study
Directive on Global Development Policy (PSD-7), led by top NSC aides Gayle
Smith, Michael Froman, and Jeremy Weinstein. Following the meeting, there is
still no firm schedule for releasing the QDDR interim report, which had been
While it's not clear what all the differences are right now
between the QDDR and the PSD-7 --and the two reviews serve different functions
-- one issue in dispute is whether or not there should be an independent body
to oversee and evaluate all development programs and policies established
outside the State Department. Sources said President Obama has shown personal
interest in the reviews and has had meetings to talk about foreign assistance
reform, but it's not clear at what level of detail.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry,
D-MA, and ranking member Richard Lugar, R-IN, called for the creation of the
new independent group, which would be known as the Council on Research and
Evaluation of Foreign Assistance (CORE), in their foreign aid legislation.
"We need a better way to evaluate which development programs
work, which have minimal impact, and what factors determine success or failure.
Our current system is unable to provide this analysis," a committee fact sheet
on the bill explains. "This evaluation group would be based in the executive
branch, but it would operate independently under the auspices of an interagency
Congressional sources said that they aren't expecting the
interim report soon because they were told they would be briefed before the
release and no briefing has yet been scheduled.
"State was looking to brief us very soon and now because of
the fact that there wasn't a resolution [at the deputies meeting], the schedule
is being re-evaluated," one congressional aide said.
Patrick Cronin, a former USAID official now with the Center
for a New American Security, said that although the meeting didn't resolve all
tensions between the QDDR and PSD, that doesn't mean the process isn't a
"It seemed to be a positive meeting on both sides in many
ways. But bureaucratically there are some tough fights," he said. "If you make
the strong case for development, you are already in tension with a State
Department that wants to put all development within the umbrella of State
Sources tell The Cable
that State is adamant about retaining oversight of development policy and that
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may become personally involved in advocating
for that position -- motivated in part by a desire to amass as many budget
resources under Foggy Bottom's umbrella as possible. Ultimately, President
Obama will have to decide whether to side with State or the NSC, according to
these sources, who are not directly involved in the process.
Meanwhile, the question of how the State Department wants to
implement its stated goal to "integrate" the diplomacy and development missions
is crucial, as many observers worry that development could become subsumed by
the State Department's overall foreign-policy agenda.
Paul O'Brian, vice president for policy at Oxfam America,
said it was important that both the QDDR and the PSD-7 avoid subordinating
long-term development goals like access to education and clean water to U.S.
"People are going to look very hard at both documents
and ask: Is the State Department serious about elevating development or is it
"You have to be serious about development for
USAID is already reconstituting the policy planning staff
that it lost years ago and Administrator Rajiv Shah is expected to announce
that formally in the coming weeks. But the question of whether or not USAID
will get control of its budget, now under the purview of Deputy Secretary Jack
Lew, remains unanswered.
The QDDR interim report, which covers "Phase 1" of the
process, is not expected to address that issue directly.
"Phase 1 of the process was a strategic thinking exercise
involving State, USAID, other U.S. Government agencies, and external
stakeholders," reads a new State Department fact sheet on the QDDR. Phase 2 is focusing on the
operational and institutional changes required to develop recommendations and
put them into practice."
State says the final QDDR report will be out in September.
The need to reform USAID and the overall U.S. approach to
development and foreign aid is the one thing that all sides can agree on.
"Many describe U.S. aid programs as fragmented, cumbersome,
and not finely tuned to address the existing needs and U.S. national security
interests," the Congressional Research Service wrote in an April 12 report.
"Criticisms include a lack of focus and coherence overall,
too many agencies involved in delivering aid with inadequate coordination or
leadership, lack of flexibility, responsiveness and transparency of aid
programs, and a perceived lack of progress in some countries that have been aid
recipients for decades."
NSC spokesman Mike Hammer declined to comment, citing the
NSC's policy of not talking about internal meetings.