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Senate State/Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill Creates New Account for Civilian Stabilization Activities July 27, 2009

Posted by Rebecca Williams in Analysis.
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The effort to shape a contingency fund for civilian operations in support of governance, rule of law and police training has taken a new turn in the Congress. The Obama administration, in its FY 2010 budget request, sought increased funding for the existing Section 1207 authority at DOD (from $100 million to $200 million), to be transferred to State for such operations. In addition, the administration sought two separate contingency accounts at State and USAID for such operations: a $40 million “Stabilization Bridge Fund” in the Economic Support Fund (ESF) account, and a Rapid Response Fund of $76 million in the existing USAID Office of Transition Initiatives.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee has marked up a bill that consolidates these three streams of funding into a single account of $100 million to address “unforeseen complex foreign crises.” This Emergency Crisis Fund (ECF), marks a shift from past Congressional views, which have been reluctant to provide State with such a contingency fund.

As State has slowly stood up a civilian capability through the State Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, Congress may be starting to view State as more able and willing to take a lead on support for contingency operations involving civilian capacity. In the past, Congress had viewed Section 1207 funding as a vehicle for such programs, arguing that it was needed until State’s Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) could be “stood up and adequately resourced.”

The companion House bill, which has already been passed , does not provide funding for the Stabilization Bride Fund but does include $50 million for the Rapid Response Fund.

Senate FY 2010 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill

($ in millions)

Programs

Obama Request

Senate Bill Markup

House Bill

Civilian Stabilization Initiative (CSI)

$323

$150

$155

Stabilization Bridge Fund

$40

Transition Initiatives (TI)

$126

$65

$100

Rapid Response Fund

$76

$50

Emergency Crisis Fund (ECF)

$100

Total (CSI, Bridge, TI and ECF)

$489

$315

$255

As the Senate bill awaits floor action, it remains unclear who would own the ECF account at State/USAID. Would it fund the deployment costs of the Active and Standby Response Corps that S/CRS is building? Would it fund project-specific requests from the regional bureaus within State? What would USAID’s role be with respect to this account? Would Combatant Commanders play a role in shaping or coordinating on proposals?

As these questions and others are worked out, the Senate and House Armed Services Committees are also acting on Section 1207 from the defense-side.

FY 2010 National Defense Authorization Act

($ in millions)

Programs

Obama Request

SASC

HASC

Section 1207

$200

$100

$25

The HASC bill reduced the authorized amount of Section 1207 to $25 million, arguing that it was inappropriate to provide long-term funding from DOD to State and that operation and maintenance funds should be used for core DOD missions. The SASC authorized $100 million for Section 1207, citing increased coordination between the DOD and State as one valuable aspect of Section 1207 authority. These differences will be addressed in conference on the two authorization bills.

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