House Panel Slashes USD4B from Obama’s Development Budget

An Afghan man has received food aid from the USAID. Photo by: USAID

If the U.S. aims to pursue a new approach to development, the foreign affairs spending bill for fiscal year 2011 marked up June 30 by House appropriators is not the way to go, an expert says.

The Foreign Operations subcommittee approved USD4 billion less than U.S. President Barack Obama’s USD56.7 billion request for the State Department and foreign operations. On the flip side, it is about USD4 billion above the enacted level in fiscal 2010.

“[T]his budget looks like more of the same and is a long way from a new approach to global development,” Sarah Jane Staats, director of policy outreach at the Center for Global Development, argued.

In the bill introduced by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), which comes in at USD52.7 billion, funding for HIV/AIDS, refugees, education - including basic education and cultural exchanges - and water saw increases above Obama’s request, while funding for Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Peace Corps was maintained.

Funding for the Millennium Challenge Corp. as well as agriculture and food security, global health and child survival, Pakistan, the Clean Tech Fund and the International Development Association were cut below Obama’s request.

The bill provided no funding for Obama’s USD3.9 billion for Afghanistan. Lowey said in a statement she has deferred consideration of Afghan assistance until a probe on allegations of corruption has been conducted.

“There have been ‘unnamed senior US officials’ alleging the diversion of U.S. and other donor aid. There have also been reports of high level Afghan officials interfering with and obstructing corruption investigations,” she said, adding “we will be holding hearings to investigate these concerns after the July 4 recess.”

The Obama administration’s flagship development initiatives on global health and food security are also not fully funded.

“I don’t envy the appropriators in this tough budget environment, but it’s hard to see signs of a new approach to U.S. global development here. All the more reason any effort from the administration to reform U.S. global development policy must work with Congress,” Staats concluded.

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.