Clinton to Boehner: Funding Cuts 'Detrimental' to US Security

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to reporters after her Feb. 14 meeting with House Speaker John Boehner on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Photo by: U.S. State Department

As House Republicans move to curb government spending for the remainder of fiscal 2011, the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development would face a 16 percent cut from their 2010 funding levels, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

Actual funding for the State and other international programs for fiscal 2010 stood at USD49.3 billion, with supplemental financing of USD2.3 billion. For fiscal 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama is seeking USD51.4 billion for the State and other foreign affairs schemes.

The proposed aid cuts, which Clinton called “detrimental” to U.S. national security, would force the State and USAID to “scale back significantly” their programs in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, as well as overseas investments in health, food security, climate change, border security, and trade, the secretary said.

>> House Republicans Target Global Food Aid Grants in Broader US Budget Cut Plan

In a Feb. 14 meeting with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Clinton said she has voiced “deep concerns” about the spending bill for fiscal 2011 that will move to the House floor this week.

“The scope of the proposed House cuts is massive. The truth is that cuts of that level will be detrimental to America’s national security. And I shared with the Speaker a letter I sent today to Appropriations Chairman [Hal] Rogers which lays out our concerns about the FY 11 bill,” Clinton said at a press briefing following the meeting with Boehner.

Asked what was Boehner’s response to the argument that cuts to foreign aid would compromise U.S. national security, Clinton said the Speaker is “well aware” of the role of civilian presence in conflict states.

“Well, I think the Speaker – because he has traveled to many of these places over the course of his career in Congress and has kept up to date by consulting with our military leadership – knows that we have to support our government’s efforts in our frontline states, and those efforts are both military and civilian,” Clinton said.

She added: “The strategy in both Iraq and now refined and furthered in Afghanistan – clear, hold, build, transition – the military is responsible for clear. We’re both responsible for hold. We’re responsible for build and for transition. So our colleagues in the Defense Department have been our strongest supporters, and the Speaker is well aware of that.”

Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House minority leader, said in a Feb. 11 statement that the Republican-backed spending cuts for fiscal 2011 would threaten the U.S. government’s global competitiveness.

“Republicans are proposing an irresponsible spending bill that threatens job and economic growth, hampers our global competitiveness, and harms the people hurting most: working families and the middle class. The Republican proposal would target critical education programs like Head Start, halt innovation and disease research, end construction projects to rebuild America, and take cops off the beat,” she said.

Reform coalition Modernizing Foreign Assitance Network and advocacy organization One said “disproportionate” U.S. aid cuts would balance the budget on the backs of the poorest and reverse gains in combating global poverty and disease. CARE President and CEO Helene D. Gayle said Feb. 15 that the cuts would compromise global humanitarian and development gains, as well as the U.S.’s “moral leadership.”

FY 2012 Spending Bill

Clinton said agreeing on spending levels for fiscal 2012 is just “as critical.” In the coming days, she will testify on the Hill and meet with members of the U.S. Congress to make the case for Obama’s budget request for 2012.

For fiscal 2012, Obama is seeking USD50.9 billion for the State and other international programs. Of the amount, USD47 billion is proposed to replenish the coffers of the State and USAID - excluding costs for Overseas Contingency Operations - which represents a 1 percent increase from 2010 enacted funding levels. The remaining amount will support the Millennium Challenge Corp., Peace Corps, Overseas Private Investment Corp. and other international programs.

>> Obama Unveils 2012 Budget Request; Foreign Aid Largely Spared from Cuts

Read more about U.S. development aid.

About the author

  • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.