Senate Subcommittee Passes State and Foreign Operations Bill
Today, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs passed the fiscal year 2013 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) was the only member present to vote against reporting the bill out of the committee. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the subcommittee, said, ”This bill totals $52.1 billion, which is $2.6 billion below the President’s budget request, and $1.2 billion below the Fiscal Year 2012 level.” Leahy also included in the bill ” a new Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund requested by the President, to respond to rapidly changing events in that volatile region.”
A summary of the subcommittee bill includes $733 million for the Broadcasting Board of Governors; $1.6 billion for Contributions to International Organizations; and $2 billion for assessed Contributions for International Peacekeeping Operations. The bill also includes $1.4 billion for United States Agency for International Development Operating Expenses.
Additionally, the bill includes a total of $1.1 billion for Iraq, of which $450 million is for State Department; $582.3 million is for foreign assistance; no funding is included for the police development program; and funding for the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction totals $6 million. In the markup hearing, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) noted the dramatic decrease in funding to Iraq as “throwing good money going after bad,” citing the deteriorating security situation especially in the case of the police development program.
The bill requests $3.1 billion for Development Assistance and $5.1 billion for the Economic Support Fund. Economic assistance for Egypt totals $250 million, and for Jordan $410 million. In the markup hearing, Ranking Member Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) noted the inclusion of an additional $50 million above the administration’s request for economic assistance to Jordan, citing the influx of Syrian refugees and the role of King Abdullah II as a “moderating force” in the region. For Foreign Military Financing, $3.1 billion is included for Israel; $300 million for Jordan; and $1.3 billion for Egypt. He noted “very strong restrictions on assistance” such as Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
The bill sets aside $898.2 million for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, $59 million for the USAID Office of Transition Initiatives and $50 million for the Complex Crises Fund. In the markup hearing, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) noted the MCC account “will go a long way in part of this American power doing something.”
Furthermore, the bill incorporates $1 billion the Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund, a new account to support transition, political reform, and economic growth in those regions. In the markup hearing, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) noted the subcommitee’s decision to request the fund $230 million above the administration’s $770 million request “to give the State Department the ability to go in to places like Tunisia and Libya that are at a crossroads and come up with some financial assistance to stabilize those countries.” He added that Tunisia is becoming a “very good new story if they stay on track” in the region and “this account allows the State Department some flexibility in a very quick changing area of the world.”
The bill includes $103.9 million for administrative expenses of the Export-Import Bank; $60.8 million for administrative expenses of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; and $38.2 million for the U.S. Institute of Peace.
Senator Dan Coats (R-IN) asked in the markup hearing why Senators Leahy and Graham included $79 million for UNESCO, despite legislative actions that would bar any U.S. contribution to a U.N. agency which granted Palestinians statehood status. Senator Leahy suggested Senator Coats bring the issue up with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in an authorization bill, and that the funding designated for UNESCO could be “spent on other uses” and reprogrammed in consultation with Senator Graham.