Senate panel clears $52.1B foreign operations spending bill

The bill passed 4-1, with Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenate probes FBI's heavy-handed use of redactions to obstruct congressional investigators Hillicon Valley: DHS gets new cyber chief | White House warns lawmakers not to block ZTE deal | White nationalists find home on Google Plus | Comcast outbids Disney for Fox | Anticipation builds for report on FBI Clinton probe Graham jokes about Corker: GOP would have to be organized to be a cult MORE (R-Wis.) objecting. The top Republican on the subcommittee, Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump digs in amid uproar on zero tolerance policy Senate passes 6B defense bill Justice IG says report doesn’t assess ‘credibility’ of Russian probe 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.

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“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.