In what can be interpreted as an election-year challenge to his Republican opponents, U.S. President Barack Obama is seeking a modest increase in foreign aid spending next year, including $770 million for operations in the Middle East and North Africa.
Obama is set to unveil details of his budget plan Monday (Feb. 11) at the Northern Virginia Community College. The plan, according to Politico, will seek a total budget of $51.6 billion for the State Department and foreign aid. This includes an $8.2 billion under the overseas contingency operations.
Last year, Obama requested $50.8 billion for the State Department and foreign aid, including $8.7 billion for overseas contingency operations. Congress scaled back that proposal, eventually allocating $42.1 billion for the State Department and foreign aid, and $11.2 billion for overseas contingency operations. This year, lawmakers are expected to do the same — if they end up passing a regular budget, that is, a prospect that is not clear given the tight legislative schedule prior to general elections in November.
The 2013 budget proposal also includes a $770 million request for the new Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund. The fund is meant to advance democratic and economic reforms in Arab Spring countries.
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