Biden proposes 12 percent increase for State Department budget


President Biden on Friday proposed $63.5 billion in funding for the State Department for fiscal 2022, an amount that falls short of what congressional Democrats are seeking.

The proposal from Biden represents a 12 percent increase over current funding and is part of his push to put diplomacy front and center in his approach to foreign policy.

Congress appropriated $61 billion for State Department funding in 2021.

The budget request from Biden falls short of a proposal published last month by top Democratic lawmakers with oversight of foreign affairs, which called for a $68.7 billion budget. The lawmakers said the funds were needed for key priorities like outcompeting China, fighting climate change and preparing against the next pandemic.

Most of the funds in Biden’s budget would be divided between the State and Treasury departments — with $58.4 billion going to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and $3.3 billion for international programs at Treasury.

The spending proposed by the Biden administration would be directed to funding global health security to prevent and respond to future biological threats and pandemics and addressing climate change, fully funding United Nations peacekeeping responsibilities and prioritizing human rights and addressing refugee and humanitarian issues.

The administration is calling for $10 billion for global health programs, of which nearly $1 billion would fund global health security programs, an increase of more than $800 million above the 2021 enacted level.

On climate change, the administration is requesting $2.5 billion for international climate programs, which it says is more than four times the 2021 enacted level.

The proposal also singles out that it wants to invest in increasing the size of the Foreign and Civil services as the State Department and USAID, “strengthening a diverse and inclusive diplomatic corps” along with technology and training to “revitalize these agencies national security workforce.”

The president further highlights two key geographic areas as priorities for U.S. investment to address root causes of irregular migration in Central America and support peace and development in the Middle East.

In Central America, the proposal calls for $861 million to be invested in the region as part of a four-year commitment of $4 billion. The funds are aimed at allowing the U.S. “to sustain effective regional partnerships” and strengthen “host government accountability,” with the goal of addressing endemic corruption, preventing violence, reducing poverty and expanding economic development opportunities.

In the Middle East, the discretionary request would fully fund U.S. commitments to Israel and Jordan, the proposal states, and restore programs and humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, including to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the main refugee agency for Palestinians.

The administration says its funding proposal “prioritizes the need to counter the threat from China”, with the budget at the State Department aimed at “defending democracy, freedom and the rule of law” and prioritizing human rights, fighting corruption and countering authoritarianism.

The budget proposal was welcomed by the U.S. Global Leadership Council (USGLC), a coalition of 500 businesses and NGOs that support investment to elevate development and diplomacy.

“The Administration’s first budget proposal to tackle our global needs is smart and serious,” said Liz Schrayer, president and CEO of the USGLC. “We applaud this important down payment to advance and protect America’s interests around the world — from mitigating new strains of COVID-19 and future pandemic threats, to addressing increasing global conflict, growing humanitarian crises, and continued economic competition from countries like China.”

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