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
The critics and cynics who say that aid and development money is being wasted and is ineffective at solving global problems should be momentarily silenced by recent data on infant mortality rates in Africa, which, as it turns out, have decreased drastically in the past decade. Ranging from a 2.8% annual decline in mortality rates in Malawi to an astonishing 9.9% annual decline in Senegal, the average annual decline in Sub-Saharan Africa has reached 5.9% (Click here for a chart on under-5 mortality (per 1,000 live births) in selected sub-Saharan African countries surveyed since 2005)
How is this happening? In Kenya, a country where infant mortality is declining rapidly, experts cite new public health initiatives, improved access to water and sanitation, and overall living improvements due to economic growth as possible reasons for improving conditions. Although there are still numerous challenges to be overcome, this is positive news for those who have been working tirelessly to solve some crucial problems. It is also evidence for the value of continued investment in global development programs that are working.
By Brianna Breimayer
Foreign assistance budget still in danger of cuts
This autumn, President Obama will sign the House and Senate’s compromise (or “enrolled”) version of the foreign assistance budget into law as part of the federal government’s annual appropriations bill. Global Washington tracks key legislation on its Legislative Index. Since the appropriations bill decides an entire year’s worth of federal government spending, the struggle between the House and Senate over the next 6-8 weeks will determine the fate of the U.S. foreign aid budget. The House and Senate committees have already begun writing their competing versions of the State and Foreign Operations Budget (also known as the International Affairs Budget) for the Fiscal Year 2013.
In February, the Obama Administration requested $54.839 billion for the FY 2013 State-Foreign Operations Budget (note: the State-Foreign Operations budget comprises comprises about 96% of the Obama Administration’s request of $56.25 billion for the International Affairs Budget). On April 19, the Senate Appropriations Committee proposed a $53.017 billion allocation, about the same as FY 2012′s $53.3 billion budget and about 3.1% below the president’s request. Despite the shortfall, the U.S. Global Leadership Council (USGLC), which advocates increased government investment in development and diplomacy, praised the Senate’s budget and called it “a strong allocation.” On April 25, the House Appropriations Committee proposed a $48.3 billion allocation, which represents a 9.3% cut below current levels and 11.6% less than the Administration’s request. The House cuts, according to USGLC, would come on top of the 15% cut already made to non-war related development and diplomacy programs since FY 2010.
In an email to Global Washington, Avi Glandon of the U.S. Global Leadership Council noted that “both bills are vulnerable to further cuts as they move through the committee and eventually to a full House and Senate vote. It will be important for the Senators and key Representatives in Washington to hear from us just before the floor votes.”
While many details will not be available until the full Appropriations Committee approves the bill, the USGLC gives an excellent summary of what we know so far. The subcommittee’s budget provides no funding for UNESCO, the Clean Technology Fund, the International Strategic Climate Fund, or the new $770 million Middle East North Africa (MENA) Incentive Fund. The 5.4% cut to USAID’s budget would constrain USAID’s ambitious procurement reforms and its overall reform agenda. The Development Assistance account, which provides most U.S. bilateral aid to low-income countries for agriculture, education, water, sanitation, microenterprise, and environmental activities, remains at $2.5 billion. While the House subcommittee’s bill cuts global health funding only slightly, it prohibits funding the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and re-imposes the “Global Gag Rule,” which prohibits assistance to any foreign NGO that promotes or performs abortions. The subcommittee also reduces disaster relief and refugee assistance funding by 12.5% to $2.5 billion. The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to take up its FY13 bill the week of May 21st and the full House Appropriations Committee will do the same around that time.
On May 9, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations kicked off the FY 2013 budget deliberations by marking up the draft 2013 International Affairs spending bill. The full House Appropriations Committee will consider its subcommittee’s budget proposal next week (the week of May 14-18). The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Budged is expected to consider its version on May 15. The full Senate Appropriations Committee will consider the bill on May 17 or the week of May 21. The next few weeks are the most crucial of all, so Global Washington and its friends at the U.S. Global Leadership Council will be tracking the legislative process closely and giving you the information you need to win the fight to preserve the international development funding and programs that matter to you and your organization.
Stay tuned for more Global Washington updates on the foreign assistance budget as things develop.
By Sean O’Keefe
Nonprofit leaders support foreign aid budget, cite significant progress in global health
In an opinion piece published last week in Roll Call, the leaders of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, PATH, Save the Children, and World Vision joined together to ask Congress to continue crucial funding for foreign assistance.
They cited global health as a field in which we have seen significant improvements in recent years, due in part to U.S. support and investment in the field.
- 3.3 million people with HIV received life-saving drugs
- Reported malaria cases have been reduced by 50% since 2000
- Worldwide deaths of children under age 5 have been nearly cut in half since 1990
These are just a few of the important milestones that have been achieved. This progress could be lost if we do not continue to make these lifesaving programs a prioirty.
“Funding streams have their strengths and weaknesses, but the United States is committed to implementing global health programs in the most effective and efficient way possible, and we are proud partners in this effort. While these programs encompass a variety of health issues and approaches, they all share the same over-arching mission: saving the lives of as many people as possible,” wrote Charles Lyons (Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation), Molly Joel Coye (PATH), Carolyn Miles (Save the Children), and Richard Stearns (World Vision).
Please join these global development leaders and ask your congressional representative to preserve funding that saves lives.
By Megan Boucher
New Legislation & Major Action
Bilateral Economic Assistance – Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund (FY 2013 Request)
The U.S. State Department is requesting $770 million for its FY 2013 budget for a new program that provides positive financial incentives to Middle Eastern countries to pursue democratization (click here for a Reuters article about the program and here for the White House’s budget statement on it [pdf]).
On May 9, 2012, the House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee approved a budget that provides no funding whatsoever for the MENA Incentive Fund. The Senate’s final budget is expected to provide for most of the MENA Incentive Fund’s funding, however, so it is unclear what the final (or “enrolled”) bill’s funding will look like.
Click here for the State Department’s 2011-2013 Foreign Assistance Budget spreadsheet.
S. 2327: A bill to prohibit direct foreign assistance to the Government of Egypt until the President makes certain certifications related to treatment of nongovernmental organization workers, and for other purposes.
S. 2327 was introduced so the United States does not aid the Government of Egypt unless the President certifies to Congress that the Government of Egypt is not holding any person working for a nongovernmental organization.
Reported by Committee 4/23/12. No co-sponsors.
H.R. 4133: United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012
H.R. 4133 states that it is U.S. policy to: (1) reaffirm the commitment to Israel’s security as a Jewish state, (2) provide Israel with the military capabilities to defend itself and help preserve its qualitative military edge, (3) expand military and civilian cooperation, (4) assist in a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that results in two states living side by side in peace and security, and (5) encourage Israel’s neighbors to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.
Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations 5/10/12 (304 co-sponsors).
S.Res. 435: A resolution calling for democratic change in Syria, and for other purposes.
S.Res. 435 condemns Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s ongoing slaughter of his own people and reaffirms U.S. policy that Bashar al-Assad must relinquish power and step aside. It also calls upon the President to support organizations in Syria that: (1) are representative of the Syrian people, (2) protect human rights and religious freedom, (3) cooperate with international counterterrorism and nonproliferation efforts, and (4) abstain from destabilizing neighboring countries.
Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders 5/7/12 (1 co-sponsor).
H.Res. 360: Expressing support for Israel and its right to self-defense against the illegal nuclear program by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
H.Res. 360 was introduced to congress so that the House of Representatives fully supports Israel’s lawful exercise of self-defense up to and including action to stop Iranian aggression, including a strike against Iran’s illegal nuclear program.
Referred to the Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia 5/24/12. No co-sponsors.
H.Res 639: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia should work within the framework of the United Nations process with Greece to achieve longstanding United States and United Nations policy goals of finding a mutually acceptable composite name, with a geographical qualifier and for all uses for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
H.Res 639 urges the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to: (1) work within the framework of the U.N. process with Greece to achieve long-standing U.S. and U.N. policy goals by finding a mutually acceptable official name, for all uses, for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; and (2) abstain from hostile activities and stop violating provisions of the U.N.-brokered Interim Agreement between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece regarding hostile activities or propaganda. Urges the U.S. government to work in partnership with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies to extend an invitation to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue has been reached within the U.N. framework.
Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs 4/27/12 (8 co-sponsors).
H.R. 4965: To preserve existing rights and responsibilities with respect to waters of the United States, and for other purposes.
H.R. 4965 intends for the Secretary of the Army and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency are prohibited from finalizing, adopting, implementing, administering, or enforcing the proposed guidance described in the notice of availability and request for comments entitled `EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Guidance Regarding Identification of Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act.
Referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure 4/27/12 (37 co-sponsors).
H.R. 4622: Solar Energy Deployment Act of 2012
H.R. 4622 desires to provide for the establishment of a grant program to assist State and local governments to install solar energy systems.
Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce 4/25/12. No co-sponsors.
Contributors: Sean O’Keefe, Brianna Breimayer
Edited by: Megan Boucher