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National Security / DIPLOMACY

Obama Budget Gives State Department, USAID $47 Billion

photo of Sara Sorcher
February 14, 2011

Updated at 2:35 p.m. on February 14.

CORRECTION: The original version of this report compared the wrong funding levels. This year's core budget now is compared to the core budget of 2010, the last year a budget was enacted.

The fiscal 2012 budget allocates $47 billion for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, which reflects only a 1 percent increase over 2010 levels for the core budget. However, as the civilian side steps up its efforts in the wars, primarily in Iraq, State requests an additional $8.7 billion in funds.

 

The budget reflects the Obama administration’s priorities in its triple-pronged approach to foreign affairs -- linking defense, diplomacy, and development. But the White House will face a battle in Congress to keep that funding: House Republicans have targeted foreign aid and operations in their plans to reduce the deficit.

The budget allocates $27 billion for development, in support of Obama’s Presidential Policy Direc­tive on Global Development, which he signed in September. The directive states, “Development is vital to U.S. national security and is a strategic, economic, and moral imperative for the United States."

In addition to the base budget of $47 billion, the State Department would receive about $8.7 billion for its contingency operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. For the first time, the administration’s budget is adopting a “uniform approach” for the State and Defense departments' operations in conflict areas.

The Defense Department plans to spend $107 billion for Afghanistan -- and the State Department, in its effort to build institutions, provide assistance, and bolster stability on the ground, requests $2.2 billion for its work there. State has also requested $1.2 billion for projects in Pakistan.

The U.S. has withdrawn 100,000 troops from Iraq, and the remaining 50,000 are slated to leave the country this year; the State Department requests $5.2 billion for its operations in that country to support the transition to civilian-led operations. This is in addition to DOD’s $11 billion request for Iraq in this year’s budget.

The State Department found “administrative savings and efficiencies that will streamline operations” -- but savings also comes from reprioritizing its foreign assistance. Accordingly, the department has eliminated entire bilateral programs in six countries. Foreign assistance for Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia has been reduced by $115 million. These cuts will make way for higher priority funding -- such as for Israel, Pakistan, and “programs that are critical to containing transna­tional threats including terrorism and trafficking in narcotics, weapons, and persons,” the budget states.

Despite the administration’s push to make its own trims to the State and foreign-ops budget, it’s clear that House Republicans are keen to cut U.S. spending abroad as well as at home.

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