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Senate Budget Committee Cuts Obama Foreign Affairs Budget Request March 27, 2009

Posted by Stephen Abott in Analysis, News.
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Yesterday, the Senate Budget Committee is marked up a recommended budget resolution for FY 2010 that would cut 4.00 b. from the Obama Administration’s international affairs budget request of $53.8 b.* Chairman Kent Conrad’s (D-ND) “mark” for the International Affairs budget does not provide details about any policy changes that may have influenced the Committee’s thinking, but the cut provides a budget nearly 7.5% below the President’s request.

The Administration’s FY 2009 International Affairs appropriation, including supplemental funding, was $42.7 b., making the Budget Committee’s FY 2010 funding level an increase over FY 2009 of $7.1 b., or 16.6%.

However, this increase does not take into account the forthcoming International Affairs supplemental of $7.1 b. due for transmittal next week.  If that second FY 2009 supplemental amount were to be enacted by Congress, the Chairman’s 2010 budget would provide no increase in International Affairs funding to State, USAID, and the foreign affairs agencies over FY 2009 numbers.

The foreign affairs budget cuts contrast with the Chairman’s recommendation that DOD be funded at the full amount of $533.7 b. requested by the President, and a recommended level for Veterans Affairs that exceeds the President’s request.  The Chairman’s budget provides $556.1 b. in discretionary funding for Function 050 – the national defense budget function.  This amount includes the President’s $533.7 b. proposed DOD budget, as well as FY 2010 funding for the nuclear activities of the Department of Energy, and several other smaller defense-related programs included in Function 050. Chairman Conrad also recommended that the defense figure include $2.37 b. for aerial refueling tankers in FY 2010 and $13.00 b. over the FYDP.

The International Affairs cuts reflect pressures on the Committee, largely from moderate Democrats, to reduce the overall level of non-defense spending, as part of an effort to reduce the federal deficit over the next five years.  International Affairs budgets do not have the strong constituency supporting defense, and are, as a result, vulnerable to these cuts.  The cuts also reflect the Committee and the Congress’ continuing reluctance to consider all elements of national security spending together, as part of U.S. national security strategy. The result of cuts to the International Affairs budgets could be a further weakening of the civilian tool of American statecraft.

*The original Obama budget document requested $51.7 b. for International Affairs, but did not include $2.1 b. in food aid spending which is normally included in the International Affairs Budget Function.

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1. Comparison of the Senate and House Budget Markups for International Affairs « Budget Insight - April 1, 2009

[…] the House and Senate will reconsider their proposed cuts to the international affairs budget. The Senate cut $4 billion from the President’s Budget request of $53.8 billion for international affairs, while the House […]


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