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FY 2010 Budget Request: International Affairs July 1, 2009

Posted by Stephen Abott in Analysis.
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The Stimson Center recently released this report, who’s research was funded in part under contract with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, on the FY 2010 International Affairs Budget Request. Below are the highlights of the report:

Joseph C. Whitehill, Analyst

The Obama Administration has requested $53.9 billion for International Affairs in its FY 2010 budget request. This request is a 26 percent increase over the last administration’s FY 2008 budget request and a 27 percent increase above the amount appropriated for International Affairs for FY 2009, before taking supplemental appropriations into account.With this request, the administration is taking the first step toward its commitment to double foreign assistance by FY 2015.

The Stimson Center has carried out a detailed analysis of this request, including the international affairs funding provided in the recently-passed FY 2009 supplemental appropriations act, with the following highlights:

  • The $53.9 billion request for discretionary programs in International Affairs constitutes 4.7% of  the President’s proposed discretionary budget.

  • The request would increase spending on foreign assistance across nearly all objectives and program areas. Funding for economic growth and governance objectives would benefit from the highest rate of growth, increasing by 43 and 25 percent respectively over FY 2008.
  • The recently-passed FY 2009 supplemental provided an additional $15.4 billion for International Affairs, $8.3 billion more than the administration requested. At least $2 billion of those supplemental funds are actually for programs requested in the President’s FY 2010 budget. The congressional decision to move the $2 billion in funding into the supplemental will help fill the gap in the FY 2010 budget between the funds the President requested and the lower level of funding provided in Appropriations (302b) allocations to the State/Foreign Operations subcommittees. An additional $5 billion corresponds to a rescoring of the Administration’s 2010 request for an International Monetary Fund quota increase.
  • Although multilateral assistance spending through international organizations and the multilateral development banks would increase in FY 2010, the budget reflects continuation of a long-term trend toward lower funding for multilateral activities as a share of overall US foreign policy spending. As US International Affairs spending has increased over the last decade, growth for bilateral tools has predominated. The President’s budget does not reverse this trend.
  • The President’s budget seeks significant funding growth for diplomatic and development operations. Both State and USAID would be able to increase their core diplomatic, development, and training capacities. The State Department would also increase its support and Diplomatic Security staffs.
  • The request would significantly increase the civilian response capabilities of the State Department, with an additional $323 million for Civilian Stabilization Initiative and the creation of two contingency funds for rapid response ($76 million for the Rapid Response Fund in USAID and $40 million for the Stabilization Bridge Fund as a part of the Economic Support Fund account).
  • The request takes important steps to correct the previous practice of under-funding core International Affairs accounts and seeking to make up the difference through supplemental requests. In particular, the request for humanitarian relief and food aid accounts are roughly $470 million higher than the 5-year average funding for these accounts, more than fully funding these requirements. Similarly, the FY 2010 budget request would fully fund US commitments to international organizations and peacekeeping activities, rather than seeking to make up shortfalls through supplemental requests.
  • Overall, economic/humanitarian assistance is slated to double during the FY 2009-2015 timeframe. Health programs receive significant support in this budget, a 15 percent increase over FY 2008. The White House has announced the President’s plan to request $63 billion over six years for global health.
  • The request would greatly increase resources for Afghanistan and Pakistan, but, reflecting the shift in policy priorities, would reduce funding for Iraq, aside from counter-narcotics funding.
  • While security assistance programs appear to have relatively flat funding in the international affairs account, the parallel architecture of economic and security assistance provided through the Department of Defense (DOD) continues to grow.
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