POMED Report: Analyzing the FY13 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bills
The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) released a report contrasting the House and Senate Appropriations bills for fiscal year 2013, examining the potential impact of these bills on foreign aid and democracy assistance. Among the notable findings are additional restrictions upon aid to Egypt, drastic discrepancies in funding of the Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund between the House and Senate, and a prohibition of direct Government-to-Government economic assistance if a government is “significantly interfering with the operation of civil society organizations.”
On Thursday (5/17), the House Appropriations Committee approved by voice vote its fiscal year 2013 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, H.R.5857. According to a committee press release, the bill totals $40.1 billion in regular discretionary funding, which is $2 billion (14 percent) below the fiscal year 2013 request from the Obama administration. On Thursday (5/24), the Senate Appropriations Committee approved S. 3241, its fiscal year 2013 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. The bill totals $52.1 billion, which is $2.6 billion below the President’s request and $12 billion above the House version of the bill, according to a committee press release.
Read the executive summary below, or click here for a PDF of the full report.
- The Senate bill’s total budget for foreign assistance is $52.1 billion and the House version of the bill is $40.1 billion, which are $2.6 billion and$14.6 billion below the President’s request of $54.7 billion, respectively.
- The House bill does not fully fund the $770 million Middle Eastand North Africa Incentive Fund requested by the administration, while the Senate bill includes $1 billion for the Fund. The House Appropriations Committee instead allocates $200 million for a Middle East Response fund, which includes $175 million for economic assistance and $25 million for military assistance. Of these amounts, only $50 million remains in non-earmarked funds to respond to developments in the Middle East. In comparison, the Senate bill allocates $70 million of the Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund to the Middle East Partnership Initiative, leaving the remaining $930 million available “to respond to unpredictable events arising from popular demands for economic and political reforms” in the region. The Senate bill’s Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund provides the administration a much greater degree of flexibility and resources to respond to events in the region, and also to incentivize key allies in the region to reform in exchange for potential increases to economic and military assistance.
- The House bill prohibits all direct Government-to-Governmenteconomic assistance “if such government is actively and significantly interfering with the operation of civil society organizations.” The civil society clause can be interpreted as conditioning Egypt’s Economic Support Funds (ESF) on ending its campaign against international and domestic civil society organizations.
- Congressional policy toward Egypt’s economic and military assistance varies considerably between the House and Senate. In the House bill, the national security waiver on Egypt’s Foreign Military Financing (FMF) is only applicable to Egypt’s commitment to democratic processes and freedoms, and cannot be applied if the Government of Egypt fails to meet its obligations under the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. In comparison, the Senate expands previous restrictions by seeking to limit Egypt’s military assistance unless: there is full public disclosure of its budget, an end to harassment of and interference with civil society organizations, and a comprehensive review of bilateral assistance to Egypt for fiscal year 2014. Finally, the Senate bill reduces Egypt’s ESF “by an amount equal to the amount that the Secretary of State determines and reports to the Committees on Appropriations was posted as bail in February 2012 for members of United States nongovernmental organizations.” At the full committee markup hearing, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) pointed out the reduction in Egypt’s economic assistance by $5 million to account for the bail money: “We got some of our money back.”
- The House bill includes $122 million for the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), while the Senate bill allocates nearly double that amount – $236 million. In regards to the NED, the Senate committee report notes: “In many circumstances, the Committee recognizes the NED as a more appropriate and effective mechanism to promote democracy and human rights abroad than either the Department of State or USAID.” Furthermore, the House bill includes $120 million for the President’s Democracy Fund, while the Senate bill includes $230 million.
- The House bill places new conditions on direct Government-to-Government economic assistance, allowing such aid only “if such government is sincere in the pursuit of democracy.” A country’s sincerity is to be measured by its performance on the indicators in the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s ‘‘Ruling Justly’’ category. Based ona review of available MCC scorecards, this could potentially jeopardize assistance to Egypt, as the country received a “fail” rating on the“Ruling Justly” category in FY2011 and FY2012 after receiving a “pass” rating on this category in FY2010.
- The Senate bill restricts provision of “tear gas, armored vehicles, small arms, light weapons, ammunition, or other items for crowd control purposes” to foreign security forces that have “used excessive force to repress peaceful, lawful, and organized dissent.” The Senate also contains further detailed restrictions on such assistance to Bahrain, citing the release of political prisoners, the protection of universal rights, and accountability for “Bahraini officials credibly alleged to have been involved in violations of human rights, including torture.”