GOP eyes $2B State, foreign aid cuts

House Republicans on Tuesday released a $40.1 billion spending bill for foreign aid and other State Department programs that cuts funding by $2 billion — or 5 percent — from the previous year's levels.

The bill “significantly cuts” payments to international organizations, eliminating support for the Clean Technology and the Strategic Climate funds and zeroing out funding to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) after it voted to admit Palestine last year. 

The bill also reinstates the Mexico City Policy banning funding for abortion providers and sets strict conditions on aid to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority.

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“This is a tough, effective national security bill that continues to cut spending, reform our aid programs, and demand accountability from our partners and allies,” State and Foreign Operations subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-Texas) said in a statement. “This bill reflects principled funding decisions that give the United States the flexibility to respond to a rapidly changing world while making sure our foreign aid is not a blank check for foreign governments who do not support our national security priorities.”

Granger's panel is scheduled to mark up the spending bill on Wednesday.

Foreign aid has repeatedly been targeted for cuts by the GOP House. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly argued against deeper cuts during budget debates last year, arguing that foreign aid helps development in poorer countries, which helps U.S. foreign policy.

Read the House Appropriations Committee's bill summary below:

International Security Assistance – The bill provides $7.3 billion in discretionary funding for international security assistance, a decrease of $632 million from the President’s request and $39 million over last year’s level.

This includes funds for international narcotics control, anti-terrorism programs, nonproliferation programs, peacekeeping operations, and other international security efforts. The bill fully funds the $3.1 billion commitment outlined in the United States-Israel Memorandum of Understanding for security assistance, and the $300 million request for security assistance for Jordan. It also increases support for security initiatives in Mexico, Colombia, and Central America to help ongoing counter-narcotics and law enforcement efforts.

Bilateral Assistance – The legislation contains a total of $17.2 billion for bilateral economic assistance, a decrease of $1.1 billion below last year and $3 billion below the President’s request.  While making sensible cuts to lower-priority areas, the bill restores some of the cuts proposed in the President’s request for priority global health programs, refugee assistance, and democracy promotion activities.  Funding for the Peace Corps, Millennium Challenge Corporation, and Development Assistance is essentially maintained at last year’s level. 

Multilateral Assistance – The legislation provides $2.2 billion for multilateral assistance, a reduction of $734 million below last year and $715 million below the President’s request. The bill makes significant cuts to many multilateral international organizations and programs, including reductions to international banks. The bill eliminates funding for the Clean Technology Fund and the Strategic Climate Fund, and provides just half of the requested capital for multilateral development banks. The bill also imposes conditions on multilateral development banks capital funding, requiring successful implementation of a number of transparency and accountability measures.

Export and Investment Programs – The bill continues to support export and investment assistance programs, including level funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Trade and Development Agency.

State Department Operations and Related Agencies – The bill contains a total of $12.9 billion in discretionary funding for operational costs of the State Department and related agencies – a decrease of $433 million below last year’s level and $1.5 billion below the President’s request. This includes funding for programs such as diplomatic and consular affairs, embassy security and operations, assessed contributions to international organizations, and international broadcasting. No funding is included for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Operations – The bill contains $1.2 billion for USAID – a reduction of $73 million from last year’s level and $252.5 million below the President’s request. An additional $258 million in OCO/GWOT funding is provided to cover costs of USAID operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Global War on Terror – The bill includes $8.2 billion in OCO/GWOT funding – a reduction of $3 billion below last year. This war funding is designed to be temporary, and year-to-year reductions are expected. This includes funding for programs and activities in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. In Iraq, these funds will support security forces previously funded by the Department of Defense. This funding will also provide for civilian programs in Afghanistan as part of the military’s counterinsurgency efforts.

Increased Oversight and Management – The bill includes several provisions to increase oversight and tighten the reins on the management of programs and use of taxpayer dollars. Some of these provisions include:

Direct Government Assistance – The bill includes layers of conditions on government-to-government assistance, including assessments, certifications, and annual reporting requirements.

United Nations Reform – The bill provides no funding for the Human Rights Council unless the Secretary of State certifies that it is in the national interest, and unless the Council stops its anti-Israel agenda. This bill also prohibits funds for UN organizations headed by terrorist countries, and withholds a portion of funds for the UN and international organizations until financial audits are fully available to the United States Government and the public. 

Multi-Year Funding Commitments – The legislation requires additional Congressional oversight before the Administration makes public announcements of multi-year funding pledges to other countries or international organizations.

Afghanistan – The legislation withholds operating funds until a transition plan is submitted and withholds assistance until certifications that proper security is in place for civilian aid workers can be made.

Pakistan – The legislation prohibits economic and security assistance unless the Government of Pakistan is cooperating with the United States on counterterrorism efforts and other issues.

Egypt – The legislation prohibits economic and security assistance if the Government of Egypt does not adhere to the peace treaty with Israel, and requires the Secretary of State to certify that additional conditions have been met, including respect for due process of law.

Palestinian Authority – The legislation stops economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority if the Palestinians obtain membership at the United Nations or its specialized agencies without an agreement with Israel.

Important Policy Provisions – The bill supports important policy provisions to safeguard the respect for life around the globe. For example, the bill:

Reinstates Mexico City Policy, a policy prohibiting U.S. assistance to foreign nongovernmental organizations that promote or perform abortions.

Prohibits funding for the UN Population Fund, and caps family planning and reproductive health programs at no more than the fiscal year 2008 level.

Maintains long-standing pro-life riders, including the “Tiahrt Amendment,” which ensures family planning programs are voluntary; the “Helms Amendment,” which bans foreign aid from being spent on abortions; and the “Kemp-Kasten Amendment,” which prohibits funds to organizations the President determines to support coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.

Contains no funds for needle exchange programs.

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