The bill to fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year has passed both the House and the Senate, and now awaits President Obama’s signature.
The bill includes significant cuts to the foreign affairs budget items. In the accounts that InterAction tracks, cuts for the most part averaged from 5-15 percent, but while some accounts were allowed to continue at nearly FY2010 levels, others had cuts of over 70 percent and a few were defunded completely. For more information, see our FY2011 budget analysis spreadsheet.
Now the fight is on for the FY2012 budget, which will cause at least as heated a debate as FY2011, if not more so. InterAction has urged Congress to not make any deeper cuts for FY2012. “Political turmoil and U.S. economic and strategic interests underscore that America needs to be more engaged in international affairs, not less,” said InterAction President and CEO Samuel A. Worthington in a press statement.
Worthington also testified yesterday before the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. During his testimony, he made the point, “[O]ut of the United States’ current top 15 trading partners, 11 are graduates of U.S. foreign assistance programs.”
President Obama continues to support a robust foreign assistance program and funding, though he faces opposition from the divided Congress. Some lawmakers and the media have also been making efforts to educate the U.S. public on the reality that foreign assistance accounts for only 1 percent of the federal budget.
For more information on foreign assistance and its importance, see InterAction’s webpage Making the Case for Robust Foreign Assistance.