Every year, the State Department works with Congress to develop an international affairs budget that advances U.S. national security, protects Americans at home and abroad, opens markets overseas and creates jobs at home, fights disease, hunger and extreme poverty, and forges global partnerships.
In over 180 countries, the State Department and USAID provide the people and programs necessary to promote peace and ensure America’s leadership in the world. That investment -- which is just 1 percent of the entire federal budget -- is critical to American interests and values.
That is why the recent mark up of the FY 2014 House Appropriations Bill for State/Foreign Operations, which cuts the budget of the State Department and USAID by 20 percent, is so distressing. Cuts of this magnitude would harm America's role in the world long into the future. It would harm our ability to compete abroad, and impact our relationships with close allies like Jordan and Israel.
Here are just a few examples of the impact of the proposed cuts:
A roughly 40 percent cut to our request for economic and development assistance, dramatically reducing our efforts in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mexico, Colombia, South Sudan, Somalia, and Burma. It would also force us to scale back the Feed the Future program, setting back progress to reduce poverty in Africa by improving agricultural productivity.
Diplomatic and Consular overseas programs would be cut by nearly 40 percent from their current levels and nearly 50 percent from the President’s request. Most embassy operating costs are relatively fixed -- including local staff, utilities, and leases -- therefore, such reductions could only be achieved by shuttering some smaller posts and reducing our outreach to populations outside of city centers. In developing countries, this means potentially reduced outreach to populations most at risk.
The lack of transfer authority for foreign assistance and State Operations in Overseas Contingency Operations would limit our ability to reallocate funds to the highest priorities that demand our attention and engagement.
Constraining our contributions to International Organizations. Not paying our dues means not having a seat at the table. This would undermine our ability to advance U.S. policy interests on a wide range of issues. The House bill zeros out funding for our voluntary contributions to UN organizations, including organizations like UNICEF, and reduces or eliminates funding for several multilateral institutions. Such cuts would signal the United States is no longer a global leader.
The challenges of the budget and the challenges of foreign policy must be viewed in the context that the United States is still the nation that people all over the world look to for leadership. The proposed cuts would undermine our ability to maintain that leadership role and weaken our national security. We look forward to working with Congress to find ways to enable the State Department and USAID to continue to meet America’s objectives around the globe.