Legislative and policy-related news from D.C., Olympia, and our members
Welcome to the Global Washington Policy Update. Each month we post updates about our policy work, national global development policy news, our blog and legislative index.
Featured Policy News
2012 Appropriations Act: The fight to save foreign aid continues this year.
On December 23, 2011, President Obama signed H.R. 2055, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012. Each autumn, Congress passes a single appropriations bill that determines the fate of every dollar the federal government spends for an entire fiscal year (October 1 to September 30). The federal foreign aid budget, which includes all U.S. global development assistance, bilateral and multilateral assistance, and State Department and USAID operating expenses, has recently seen major budget cuts. The American public’s misconceptions about foreign aid (it’s 1%, not 25%, of the federal budget) help make it an easy target politically. This summer, foreign aid programs will face more pressure when the House introduces its proposal for the FY 2013 budget.
In the coming months, Global Washington’s Legislative Index will list the figures for FY 2011, FY 2012, and the competing FY 2013 proposals for every line item in the foreign aid budget that affects the Global Washington community. You will see exactly how the proposed foreign aid cuts will affect you, your organization, and your corner of the global development community. This information will help you identify your priorities during the foreign aid budget fight so that you can run effective and well-informed advocacy campaigns.
The federal foreign aid budget fell from $53.9 billion in FY 2010 to $49 billion in FY 2011 (including war-related spending) – a 12.5% drop in one year. The 2012 foreign aid budget has a new feature: it lists regular foreign aid spending separately from war-related spending (called Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO). The 2012 foreign aid budget lists $42.1 billion in regular spending plus $11.2 billion in war-related funds – a total of $53.3 billion. Despite the higher total figure, non-war-related foreign aid funding was cut by $2.2 billion from 2011 figures. The House had originally wanted another $5 billion in additional foreign cuts (for a total budget of $49 billion including war-expenses), but the Senate prevented it.
To get a better picture of the House and Senate’s back-and-forth on foreign aid, read this article in The Guardian and its accompanying charts. Because of this outcome, many foreign aid advocates and advocacy groups breathed a sigh of relief but warned that the FY 2013 budget will be the biggest challenge yet.
We will be updating the Global Washington Legislative Index throughout the spring and summer with important information for Global Washington members, so please check back regularly. If you would like to see the FY 2012 Foreign Assistance Budget for yourself, click here to see the State Department’s five-page breakdown of all $53.3 billion of it or here for the State Department’s web page about it.
By Sean O’Keefe
New Legislation & Major Action
December 2011 – February 2012
Title III: Bilateral Economic Assistance – Global Health Programs
Appropriates $5.54 billion to the State Department (available for use until September 30, 2016) and $2.625 billion to USAID (available for use until September 30, 2013) for global health activities. Priorities include (1) child survival and maternal health programs; (2) immunization and oral rehydration programs; (3) health, nutrition, water and sanitation programs; (4) assistance for displaced and orphaned children (5) programs for preventing, treating, controlling, and researching HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, polio, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases; and (6) family planning and reproductive health. President Obama signed H.R. 2055 into law on December 23, 2011
USAID: FY 2011: $2.498 billion | FY 2012: $2.625 billion | FY 2013 (request): $2.504 billion [Cut: $121 million]
STATE: FY 2011: $5.334 billion | FY 2012: $5.542 billion | FY 2013 (request): $5.350 billion [Cut: $192.9 million]
Title III: Bilateral Economic Assistance – Millennium Challenge Corporation
Appropriates $898.2 million (to remain available until expended) to carry out the provisions of the Millennium Challenge Act of 2003 ($105 million of which may fund the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s administrative expenses). President Obama signedH.R. 2055 into law on December 23, 2011.
FY 2011: $898.2 million | FY 2012: $898.2 million | FY 2013 (request): $898.2 million
Directs the Administrator of USAID to designate a Global Water Coordinator to oversee US water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance and directs the Secretary of State to designate a Special Advisor for Water Resources to help coordinate policy. Introduced and referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on December 14, 2011. 17 co-sponsors.
Directs USAID to: modify its Poverty Assessment Tools, streamline household-level interventions, and support agriculture-focused microfinance institutions, informal savings-led and asset building financial services, and organizations that link social protection programs with microfinance services, savings services, and business development services. It authorizes USAID to utilize 1% of its development assistance account budget from Fiscal Year 2013 through Fiscal Year 2017 for creating a financial access and microenterprise innovation challenge fund that shall: (1) support cost-effective and innovative products and technologies that improve the delivery of financial services to the poor, particularly in rural locations; (2) support new microfinance and microenterprise products, services, and delivery systems that show potential to become cost-effective at large scale; and (3) help transition such methods and technologies to widespread adoption. Introduced and referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on December 17, 2011. 2 co-sponsors.
Requires the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a program to provide for fellowships to conduct research and education on the eradication of world hunger and malnutrition. Requires the President to urge the creation within the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization of fellowship positions for Clayton Fellows. Introduced and referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on November 16, 2011. 62 co-sponsors.
Encourages USAID, the State Department, and the Department of Energy to support renewable energy projects in developing countries (especially solar energy technologies) to increase the availability of credit, savings, training, technical assistance, and business development services for microfinance and microenterprise clients in developing countries The bill asks for $5 million for fiscal year 2013, $5 million for 2014, $7.5 million for 2015, $7.5 million for 2016, $10 million for 2017, and $15 million for 2018. Introduced to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on February 2, 2012. No co-sponsors.
Contributors: Sean O’Keefe, Anamika P. Ved
Edited by: Megan Boucher