The Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPs) appropriations bill provides annual appropriations for the 95% of U.S. security, humanitarian, bilateral economic assistance efforts generally considered part of the 150 International Affairs Budget Function. Last week, both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved their respective fiscal year 14 SFOPs bills.
The two bills are nearly $10 billion apart in top line funding – which makes them very difficult to pass – and reflect the two chambers’ increasingly divergent approaches towards U.S. engagement with the world through both the total amount of funding provided and prioritization of programs funded. The bills nevertheless share a commitment to fully funding security assistance efforts in North Africa and the Middle East, at the expense of less well known but highly effective conflict prevention, civilian protection, and transition initiatives.
The Full Senate Appropriations Committee on July 25, 2013 approved its FY 2014 SFOPs bill providing $50.594 billion in discretionary budget authority to support foreign affairs programming, roughly flat with current FY13 post-sequestration funding levels.
Of this amount, $44.1 billion is for base programs, while $6.515 billion is for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)/Global War on Terror (GWOT) in the frontline states (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq) and in other areas in political transition in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and to “respond to” humanitarian emergencies in places such as Syria, Somalia and Central Africa.
Within these reallocations are a few key mergers of past interagency conflict prevention and civilian protection accounts, such as the Complex Crises Fund, into larger accounts more centrally controlled by the Department of State and directly geographically associated with MENA. Such shifts may significantly limit the government’s ability to commit resources towards preventing violent conflicts and deterring crises in less “top line” countries such as Kenya, Sri Lanka, Burma, Burundi or Colombia.
In total, the bill provides significant increases from FY13 levels (+$1.63 billion) for humanitarian programs and reductions (-$1.97 billion) for agency operations and assistance in the Frontline States. The bill is $1.1 billion below the President’s fiscal year 2014 budget request and $2.7 billion below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level.
The Full House Appropriations Committee, in contrast, passed its FY14 SFOPs bill on Wednesday, July 24, 2013 with top line funding of $40.6 billion. The bill falls 19.9% below current post-sequestration spending and 21.4% under the President’s FY14 request, and specifically prioritizes diplomatic security, global health, and security assistance.
The House bill gives only $34.1 billion in base operational funding. To achieve such a reduction, it depletes funding for several innovative conflict prevention and civilian protection counts, cuts funding for the U.S. Agency for International Development’s by 11 percent to $1.4 billion, and decreases the State Department’s funding level for foreign government assistance by 25% to $17.3 billion. It reduces funding for the Contributions to International Organizations (CIO) account, which funds the UN regular budget payments and U.S. contributions to a number of UN specialized agencies, by more than 50% from the President’s request and underfunds by over $1 billion Contributions to International Peacekeeping (CIPA).
The bill fully funds, however, the President’s request for international security assistance, at $8.5 billion. It also matches the Senate’s allotted OCO/GWOT spending at $6.5 billion to achieve U.S. national security interests in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the continued military to civilian transition in Iraq.
Together, these monies fund – with virtually no legislative requirement to audit, measure, monitor or evaluate the impacts of – Non-Proliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related Programs; Foreign Military Financing; International Military Education and Training; International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement; and Peacekeeping Operations.
Next Steps: Towards a Continuing Resolution
Similar to last year’s budget cycle, neither bill is anticipated to be passed into law. State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs will instead be funded through a “Continuing Resolution” or “CR.” A CR is a joint piece of legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President to keep government agencies funded for a certain length of time as a result of failure to agree on appropriations bills.
Members of both the House and Senate Appropriations Committee negotiate the terms of duration, funding for and programmatic prioritization in the CR. In the past and is common practice, a CR will maintain all or most government programs that existed the previous fiscal year.