Leahy reports on subcommittee approval of State Dept Appropriations Bill

-A A +A

Leahy reports on subcommittee approval of State Dept Appropriations Bill

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 3:52pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine The bill provides $51.195 billion in discretionary budget authority, including $20.785 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations. The allocation is $10.7 billion above the president’s request as scored by CBO, but it is $1.9 billion below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level when factoring in fiscal year 2017 funding for famine relief but not the Security Assistance Appropriations Act, 2017.  

US Senator Leahy Ranking Member (D-Vermont), Ranking Member of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee, said:

“Chairman Graham has done a very good job with the allocation he was given. I thank him and his staff for working with me and my staff.  Obviously, there are things in the bill I do not agree with – some I strongly disagree with – which is the nature of this process, but for the most part I support the choices he has made.             

“The President sent us a budget that was irresponsible and indefensible. We were provided no credible justification for the cuts that were proposed, which would have severely eroded U.S. global leadership.  This bill repudiates the President’s reckless budget request, and I commend Chairman Graham for reaffirming the primacy of the Congress in appropriating funds.  

“Chairman Graham and I have been outspoken in our criticism of sequestration, as have many others.  He and I both know this bill does not do enough to protect our national security interests.  Underfunding many critical programs – from UN peacekeeping to climate change to humanitarian relief for victims of war and natural disasters – is unacceptable for the world’s wealthiest, most powerful nation.  Ultimately, the solution lies in a new, bipartisan budget agreement that enables the United States to meet its international obligations and be the leader we and the world need.”

Key Points & Highlights – In order to provide continuity and predictability for Federal departments and agencies, the bill provides funding for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs at, or close to, the fiscal year 17 levels.  These agencies are responsible for the diplomacy, development, and national security programs that enable the United States to exert global leadership.  Our embassies and consulates assist millions of Americans doing business, serving our government, and studying abroad, as well as the citizens of those countries seeking visas to visit the U.S.  The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) maintains more than 70 overseas missions that implement global health, economic development, and humanitarian relief programs, which can mean life or death for hundreds of millions of people.

·        The bill provides funding to support current operations for the Department of State and USAID.

·         The bill supports U.S. contributions to the United Nations and other international agencies and financial institutions, but at levels below last year, and does not include any funds for the Green Climate Fund. 

·         The bill does not endorse the reorganization or redesign of any part of the Department of State, USAID, or any other entity funded in the bill absent consultation with, and the notification and detailed justification of any proposed modifications to, the Committees on Appropriations.  In addition to such consultation and notification requirements, section 7083 of the bill requires any such proposal to first be submitted to GAO for review. The bill further restricts changes to, and provides specific amounts of funding for, certain bureaus, offices, and positions, and removes authority for the administration to deviate from certain operating and assistance funding levels.

Investments in the Department of State, USAID, and multilateral organizations help to build a safer, more stable world, and directly benefit the US economy. However, because of the sequestration funding limits imposed under the Republican budget, investments in diplomacy and development are inadequately funded, constraining our ability to promote and protect U.S. interests overseas.   

·         Contributions for International Peacekeeping:  The bill provides the funding, assuming $295 million in prior year carryover funds despite U.S. arrears of $275 million, to pay 25 percent of UN peacekeeping assessments.  This is $186 million above the budget request but falls short of the U.S. actual assessment of 28.4 percent for the second year in a row, adding another $230 million to U.S. arrears. 

·         Embassy Security:  The bill provides $5.8 billion for embassy security, which is $915 million above the budget request.

·         Educational and Cultural Exchanges:  The bill provides $634 million for Educational and Cultural Exchanges, which is equal to the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $349 million above the budget request.  The bill includes $240 million for the Fulbright Program.

·         Global Health:  The bill includes $8.59 billion for Global Health Programs, which is $135 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level but $2.1 billion above the budget request.  This includes $4.32 billion for PEPFAR and $1.35 billion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria.  These funds have a direct impact on rates of mortality for tens of millions of children.  The bill also reprograms a portion of unspent prior year emergency funds to provide an additional $20 million to combat TB.

·         Counter Russian Influence Fund: The bill includes $120 million for the Counter Russian Influence Fund, which is $20 million above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level.

·         North Korea: The bill prohibits funding to the government of any country that the Secretary of State determines is knowingly contributing to North Korea’s nuclear, ballistic missile, or cyber warfare capabilities, and provides $8 million dollars for the promotion of human rights in North Korea.

·         Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC):  The bill provides $905 million for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which is equal to the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $105 million above the budget request. The MCC supports economic growth programs that create jobs in countries that meet key anti-corruption and poverty reduction criteria.

·         Humanitarian aid for refugees and disaster victims:  The bill provides a total of $6.24 billion for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, which is $627 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level including funding for famine relief but not the Security Assistance Appropriations Act, and $989 million above the budget request.  These programs provide life-saving food, water, medicine, and shelter for the world’s most vulnerable people who are fleeing wars or impacted by severe hunger and conflict, including in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria.

·         Climate Change:  The bill provides $0 for the Green Climate Fund and several other climate change-related funds and programs.  However, the bill continues funding for USAID environment programs (e.g. to protect forests, ecosystems, and wildlife) at fiscal year 2017 levels.  

·         Export Promotion:  In response to economic competition from other countries and expanding U.S. trade with Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the bill rejects cuts proposed for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Export-Import Bank, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.  

·         International Financial Institutions (IFIs):  The bill provides the amount requested for the World Bank and other IFIs, and $136 million for the Global Environment Facility, which is $33 million above the budget request.

·         U.S. Engagement with Central America:  The bill provides $600 million to support the Alliance for Prosperity Plan, which is $55 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level but $140 million above the budget request, with conditions on governance and human rights.  These funds are used to address the causes of migration from the poorest and most violent regions of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

·         Colombia:  The bill provides $391 million, the same as the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $140 million above the budget request.  These funds are intended to support implementation of the peace agreement with the FARC, and a portion is subject to conditions on counter narcotics, justice, and human rights.

·         Israel:  The bill provides $3.1 billion in military aid, equal to the budget request. 

·         Jordan:  The bill provides a total of $1.5 billion in economic and military aid, which is $221 million above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $504 million above the budget request.

·         Egypt:  The bill provides $75 million in economic aid, which is half the amount requested and $37 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level, and $1 billion in military aid which is $300 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level.  The bill continues democracy and human rights conditions on 25% of the military aid, with waiver authority for the Secretary of State. 

·         Near East and Africa Relief and Recovery Fund:  The bill provides $500 million for programs in areas liberated from or under the influence of extremist organizations, including to address basic human needs and governance, which is $256 million above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level including funds provided in the Security Assistance Appropriations Act. 

Riders

Prohibition on Rules and Regulations to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions:  The bill continues provisions in current law that prevent the enforcement of any rule, regulation, or policy implemented by the Export-Import Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, or the World Bank that would prohibit any coal-fired power plant.  

Family Planning/Reproductive Health:  The bill codifies the Mexico City policy, which prohibits federal funding to private nongovernmental organizations that use their own private funds to provide abortion services in countries where it is legal. The bill also prohibits funding for the UN Population Fund, which provides voluntary family planning services in 150 countries and does not fund abortions.  It cuts funding for USAID’s voluntary family planning/reproductive health programs to $149 million below the fiscal year 17 level.  The bill continues the longstanding prohibition on the use of federal funds for abortion. 

Source: WASHINGTON (Wednesday, September 6, 2017)