Obama budget carves out $1.5 billion for Syria

President Obama's 2015 budget released Tuesday carves out $1.5 billion to deal with the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

Total proposed funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development would stay flat at $40.3 billion, with another $5.9 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations. The budget singles out the Syrian uprising and other post-Arab Spring transitions for particular attention.

“Building on the Administration's significant and continuing response to the transformative events in MENA [Middle East and North Africa], the Budget includes $1.5 billion to respond to the crisis in Syria and continue to support transitions and reforms in the region,” the State Department said in its summary.

The aid includes $1.1 billion in humanitarian assistance to address the fallout from the civil war in Syria, and another $400 million to support an “anticipated transition” in the country and respond to “new contingencies” while promoting reforms across the region. The funding would almost double the $1.7 billion in humanitarian aid since the beginning of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad almost three years ago.

The budget also calls for the creation of a $150 million “peacekeeping response account” that would enable the U.S. to immediately support “urgent and unexpected requirements” of new peacekeeping missions without dipping into funds allocated for existing commitments. Total funding for U.N. and non-U.N. peacekeeping missions amounts to $3 billion.

And it sets aside $4.6 billion to secure overseas personnel and facilities. That includes funding to support embassy security construction funding of $2.2 billion, as recommended by the State Department's Accountability Review Board investigation into the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.

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