By Juliana Thong
On February 6, 2013, Congressman Larry Bucshon of Indiana’s 8th district introduced the Invest in America First Act, H.R. 528. This bill will prohibit foreign aid from being given to countries with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over $1.5 trillion. An exception in the bill states that the Act will not apply to military assistance, security assistance, or humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian assistance is defined as means assistance for the relief and rehabilitation of victims of natural and manmade disasters, provided on terms and conditions determined by the President. This, however, does not include direct financial assistance.
The Invest in America First Act has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and has two cosponsors: Representative Lou Barletta (R-PA) and Representative Michael C. Burgess (R-TX). An Invest in America First Act, H.R. 3488, was previously introduced in December 2011 but not passed.
On Congressman Bucshon’s website, he states, “Our nation’s debt has surpassed the $16 trillion mark and we now borrow 42 cents on every dollar we spend… The United States currently provides billions of dollars in foreign aid while we struggle to find the financial resources to live up to the commitments made to our own citizens.” He goes on to say that, “It simply does not make sense for the United States to continue providing foreign aid to nations with large GDPs that often run budget surpluses and hold billions of our U.S. Treasury securities. We are giving them money, only to then borrow it back with interest.”
If the Invest in America First Act is passed, it would prohibit Congress and the President from giving nonmilitary foreign aid to countries that have a GDP over $1.5 trillion. There are exemptions for humanitarian and security aid, but aid is limited to the form of supplies and materials, not just a lump sum of money. Security aid could be given to countries for security threats that are deemed dangerous to our national security. An example Congressman Bucshon gives is in Fiscal Year 2010, the U.S. gave China $27.2 million in foreign aid, though they hold over $1.1 trillion in U.S. Treasury securities. The countries that would lose foreign aid are China, Russia, Brazil, and Mexico. All four also hold U.S. Treasury securities.