House Panel Weighs 2012 US Foreign Operations Bill

Members of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee convened Wednesday to deliberate a bill that proposes some $6.4 billion in cuts to the Obama administration’s $51 billion request for State and foreign operations in fiscal 2012.

The proposal seeks to limit bilateral economic assistance to $21.21 billion and provide $1.52 billion for the U.S. Agency for International Development’s operating expenses and $900 million for the Millennium Challenge Corp. It also calls for reduced funding for USAID’s Office of Budget and Resource Management, which was created in 2010.

>> House Panel to Vote on 2012 Foreign Aid Funding Cuts

A full committee vote on the bill is expected July 22.

Members of the international development community fear the proposal would stifle the reform efforts at USAID.

“Stripping USAID of its budgeting capacity by defunding the agency’s Office of Budget and Resource Management would make the agency less accountable for results, not more,” said David Beckmann, George Ingram and Jim Kolbe, chairmen of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network. “The establishment of this office is a key pillar of the USAID Forward initiative and central to making USAID, and the foreign assistance it manages, more effective.”

MFAN is a coalition of international development and foreign policy experts and advocates that work to make U.S. development assistance more effective.

The MFAN chairmen added: “While we appreciate HCFA’s movement towards MFAN’s key goal of passing modern legislation to strengthen the effectiveness and accountability of U.S. development efforts, we urge the Committee not to cut the legs out from under USAID’s unparalleled efforts to reform itself. Without a strong, empowered U.S. development agency, we will have one fewer tool in our foreign policy arsenal for confronting the global challenges of the 21st century.”

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About the author

  • Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.