Aid advocates are unsurprisingly disappointed over a House subcommittee’s approval of $2 billion worth of cuts in the U.S. foreign aid budget. But one aid expert cautions that the worst is yet to come.
The House Appropriations subcommittee on State and foreign operations approved May 9 — without amendments — its version of the fiscal 2013 U.S. international affairs spending bill. It provides $40.1 billion in regular discretionary funding for the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development and related programs — $2 billion less than current levels.
The bill now goes to the full House Appropriations Committee, which is expected to vote on it next week.
As expected, initial reactions to the subcommittee’s vote suggest disappointment among aid supporters and advocates. Center for Global Development’s Connie Veillette, however, says advocates “might want to save the hand-wringing for what could be a disastrous end-of-year scramble.”
Veillette, head of CGD’s rethinking U.S. foreign assistance initiative, forecasts a “potential end-of-year train wreck” given the differences between base funding allocations House and Senate appropriators are working with: $40.1 billion for the House and $49.8 billion for the Senate. There are bound to be difficulties when the Senate and House attempt to reconcile their versions of the spending bill, Veillette explains.
The upcoming presidential election is also expected to complicate Congressional budget deliberations. As Veillette points out, the results of the election — who will win the presidency and which party will control Congress — will affect not only how much the foreign aid budget will be but also if and when it will be passed.
“What does all this mean for development?” Veillette asks. “When the budget doesn’t get completed by the beginning of the fiscal year, the release of those funds is delayed and the period in which they must be spent is compressed.”
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