Senate comes to State Department’s defense on budget
The Senate issued its fiscal 2012 budget allocations on Wednesday, which propose allocating $44.6 billion for the international affairs budget — $5 billion more than was proposed by the House. Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) chaired a hearing on the budget on Wednesday and pledged to try to complete all 12 appropriations bills ...
The Senate issued its fiscal 2012 budget allocations on Wednesday, which propose allocating $44.6 billion for the international affairs budget -- $5 billion more than was proposed by the House.
The Senate issued its fiscal 2012 budget allocations on Wednesday, which propose allocating $44.6 billion for the international affairs budget — $5 billion more than was proposed by the House.
Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) chaired a hearing on the budget on Wednesday and pledged to try to complete all 12 appropriations bills before the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30. The allocations he announced Wednesday serve as guidance so that the senate appropriations subcommittees can write up their bills. Inouye said that the subcommittees will try to complete their versions of the appropriations bills this month. Those versions must then be reconciled with House versions and time is running out.
"The Senate will only be in session for three weeks before the fiscal year concludes. It is for that reason and with the concurrence of the vice chairman that I directed that we hold these markups as soon as possible after the Senate returned to session," he said.
Even if the Senate completes its work, it’s unlikely it would be able to conference with the House and then pass all the appropriations bills this month. That means Congress will have to pass another short-term funding measure, called a continuing resolution, before Oct. 1, to keep the government running.
That continuing resolution, like last year’s, will be drawn up behind closed doors and probably passed at the eleventh hour. The House and Senate appropriations bills will inform that document, and the final amount allocated to the international affairs budget could be somewhere in between the two proposals.
The State Department is under particular pressure this budget cycle. The House Appropriations State and Foreign Ops subcommittee marked up a bill that would provide State and USAID with $39.6 billion in discretionary funding next year, which is 18 percent, or $8.6 billion, below the fiscal 2011 level. The fiscal 2011 level, which was reached as part of a deal to avoid a government shutdown in April, was already $8 billion less than originally requested by the Obama administration.
In her testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday, undersecretary of State for political affairs nominee Wendy Sherman said that the State Department was adamantly opposed to the House’s version of the state and foreign ops appropriations bill.
"I think the secretary has already made clear that if the House bill were to move forward to the president’s desk, she would personally recommend a veto of that bill not only on the basis of the deep cuts to the bill, but many of the provisions that are within that bill," Sherman said.
Leaders in the NGO community welcomed the Senate’s proposed allocation, and pledged to fight hard to convince lawmakers that international affairs funding is in the national interest and should be protected.
"As a result of the dramatic reductions to the International Affairs Budget in FY11 and those proposed by the House for FY12, many of the hard-fought gains we have worked to achieve since 9/11 may be reversed," said Adm. James Loy and Gen. Michael Hagee, co-chairs of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s National Security Advisory Council, in a letter today to congressional leaders.
The Senate also allocated $8.7 billion to State for "overseas contingency operations," which will go to fund diplomatic and development activities in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee also allocated $513 billion for the regular defense budget and $117.5 billion for defense-related war costs. The House version of the defense appropriations bill would provide $530.5 billion for the regular defense budget. As with the international affairs budget, the House and Senate appropriations leaders will have to reconcile their proposals on defense funding as they write the CR.
"It should be clear to all observers that this Committee has done and will continue to do its part in the fight against deficits," Inouye said. "At this point others need to step up to the plate now and offer additional ways to get our budget into balance."
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin
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