In Brief: Democrats' $12B plan to boost US foreign affairs budget

U.S. Democratic lawmakers are proposing a $12 billion boost in the country’s international affairs budget. Photos from: U.S. Senate official portraits

A group of U.S. Democratic lawmakers released a budget proposal Tuesday that would dramatically increase aid funding in an effort to compete with China, prevent the next pandemic, and fight climate change.

Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, and Rep. Ami Bera of California released the plan, titled “Investing in 21st Century Diplomacy,” which calls for $12 billion in additional funding.

“If this year has taught us anything, it’s that the biggest threats posed to our country really aren't foreign armies,” Murphy said in a statement. “We must maintain the strongest military on the planet, but we have to get smarter about the national security challenges that can only be met with non-military solutions.”

The details: The plan proposes increasing the number of foreign service officer positions at the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development. Among the proposed funding allocations are:

• A $60 billion increase to the U.S. International Development Finance Corp.’s total cap, raising it to $120 billion, and a $2 billion cap of DFC dedicated funds for energy independence.
• An additional $6.16 billion for global health.
• $3 billion for the Green Climate Fund.
• An additional $2.36 billion for global health security.
• $2.18 billion in additional humanitarian assistance.
• $905 million for the Millennium Challenge Corp., doubling its annual budget.
• $500 million for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

Why it matters: This plan shows that at least some Democrats are looking to take advantage of congressional majorities to expand the foreign affairs budget. It’s also notable that the increase is being sold in part as a way to counter China — an argument for aid that has bipartisan support and has gained traction in recent years.

About the author

  • Adva Saldinger

    Adva Saldinger is a Senior Reporter at Devex, where she covers the intersection of business and international development, as well as U.S. foreign aid policy. From partnerships to trade and social entrepreneurship to impact investing, Adva explores the role the private sector and private capital play in development. A journalist with more than 10 years of experience, she has worked at several newspapers in the U.S. and lived in both Ghana and South Africa.