As part of the budget deal struck to avoid a government
shutdown, the White House has agreed to reduce the State Department and foreign
operations budgets for the rest of fiscal 2011 by $8 billion. Meanwhile, the
fight over the president's fiscal 2012 budget is already underway.
White House senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer wrote on
the White House blog that the administration had agreed to take $8 billion
from the international affairs fiscal 2011 budget. "These significant cuts to
the State Department and foreign assistance will mean we will not meet some of
the ambitious goals set for the nation in the President's budget," he wrote.
The details of those cuts were left to House and Senate appropriations staffs
to work out, and were
released Tuesday morning.
The biggest cut is to the State Department's Economic
Support Fund, which will get $1.8 billion less than the president requested.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation will see its fiscal 2011 request reduced
by $380 million and contributions to the U.N. and other international affairs
organizations will be reduced by $304 million from the president's request.
House State and Foreign
Operations ranking Democrat Nita Lowey
(D-NY) praised the budget deal and said it was much better than the original
bill (H.R.1) passed by the House Republicans, which would have cut the overall
State and foreign operations budget by 16 percent.
"National security is a three-legged stool of defense, diplomacy, and
development," Lowey said in a statement. "H.R. 1 would have chopped two
of these legs at the knees. I am pleased the agreement reached by the White
House and Congressional negotiators would restore many of the ill-advised cuts
passed by the House of Representatives in February."
Other programs that will lose large portions of their
requested funding include the operating expenses for USAID ($122 million less
than the request), the Civilian Stabilization Initiative (-$144 million), the
office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (-$155 million), the Peace Corps (-$71
million), the International Clean Technology Fund (-$215 million), the
International Strategic Climate Fund (-$185 million), and Worldwide Security
Protection (-$61 million).
The United States Institute of Peace will be able to
continue operating until the end of the fiscal year Oct. 1, facing only a $7
million budget cut.
The impact of these cuts on the respective offices is even
more severe because the 2011 fiscal year is half over, meaning that the cuts
must be made before the end of the fiscal year Oct. 1.
Meanwhile, the budget battle for next year is already
heating up. If the GOP leadership has its way, the current State and foreign
operations budget cuts are just the beginning. The Paul Ryan (R-WI) budget would
reduce international affairs spending by 29 percent in fiscal 2012 from the
president's 2011 request; the Republican Study Committee has already proposed the
drastic defunding of USAID.
The actual bills for fiscal 2012 are being written over the
next couple of weeks. As part of that process, the House Foreign Affairs
Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are tasked with sending
their recommendations to their respective budget committee chairmen, to help
them decide how much funding should be allocated to each part of the budget.
SFRC Chairman John
Kerry (D-MA) sent his recommendations to Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) last month. His
letter (PDF), obtained by The Cable,
calls for fully funding the president's $53 billion fiscal 2012 request for
"I realize that we are facing a very difficult budget
climate with significant domestic economic challenges and rising federal
deficits," Kerry wrote. "But at this moment we can ill afford not to invest
critical resources in support of our foreign policy priorities."
Last month, we brought you the
documents submitted by House Foreign Affairs Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), which
called for the elimination of over a dozen State Department and foreign aid
programs. She pledged to fight "locality pay" increases for Foreign Service officers and recommended cutting off assistance to the Lebanese Armed
Forces, the West Bank and Gaza, the Asia Foundation, the U.S. Institute of
Peace, and the East-West Center.
Kerry defended funding for those
institutions specifically. "Curtailment of preventive diplomacy initiatives
today could well necessitate more costly responses in the future to regional
conflict and humanitarian crises," he wrote.