Foggy Bottom took a big budget cut in 2012, so the State Department is asking for more money next year while requesting more than $8 billion for diplomatic activities in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.
The president's fiscal 2013 budget request, released today, asks Congress for $51.6 billion for the State Department and USAID, which the administration describes as a 1.6 percent, or 0.8 billion increase over fiscal 2012 levels as enacted by Congress in the latest appropriations bill. That $51.6 billion total includes $8.2 billion in the Overseas Contingency Operations account, which is meant to pay for the temporary costs of the wars in Southwest Asia and their aftermaths.
The administration's request for the entire international affairs account, known as the 150 function of federal budgeting, is $56.3 billion, a $1.4 billion or 2.6 percent increase of fiscal 2012 enacted levels. The $8.2 billion being requested for the OCO account is about $3 billion or 26 percent less than the level enacted for fiscal year 2012.
"Even in tough times, this request represents a smart and strategic investment. The State Department and USAID are among the most effective -- and cost effective -- tools we have to create economic opportunity and keep Americans safe," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in her letter accompanying the State and USAID budget request.
"We know that this is a time of fiscal constraint and economic hardship for the American people. So we are seeking out every opportunity to work smarter and more efficiently. We have proposed painful but responsible cuts without compromising our national security mission."
The budget request would cut funding for global health programs by $300 million and cut the request for humanitarian assistance by another $300 million, Clinton wrote. Overall assistance to Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia was cut by 18 percent in the request.
The budget request also includes $770 million for a Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund -- call it the "Arab Spring" budget. It is not yet clear to what extent the $770 million represents new funding vs. the repacking of old programs.
We'll have more after a series of briefings...
The Cable goes inside the foreign policy machine, from Foggy Bottom to Turtle Bay, the White House to Embassy Row.