Senate panel clears $52.1B foreign operations spending bill

The bill passed 4-1, with Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Health Care: House passes .3T omnibus | Bill boosts funds for NIH, opioid treatment | Senators spar over ObamaCare fix | 'Right to Try' bill heads to the Senate GOP pushes to change Senate rules for Trump House passes 'right to try' drug bill MORE (R-Wis.) objecting. The top Republican on the subcommittee, Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenators introduced revised version of election cyber bill GOP senators push tougher sentencing for synthetic opioid Dems aim to turn ObamaCare hikes into election weapon MORE (R-S.C.), praised the bipartisan nature of the bill even though he objects to continued funding for nonprofit groups that provide abortions, which Republicans will seek to defund when the bill goes before the full committee.

Graham in particular praised the funding for the State Department's proposed $770 million incentive fund for the Middle East and North Africa, which aims to support democratic and free-market reforms in the region. Funding for the program was not included in the $48.3 billion bill House appropriators passed last week.

“This fund,” he said, “gives the State Department the ability to go into countries like Tunisia and Libya that are at a crossroads and come up with the financial assistance to stabilize those countries.”

The Senate bill is $2.6 billion below the president’s budget request, and $1.2 billion below the fiscal 2012 level.