Obama's Spending Freeze to Spare Foreign Affairs Budget, Says Official

President Barack Obama is briefed on the events in Egypt during a meeting with his national security team in the White House on Jan. 29. His proposed five-year spending freeze exempts the U.S. foreign affairs budget, according to an official of the U.S. National Security Council. Photo by: Pete Souza / The White House

A proposed five-year spending freeze announced by U.S. President Barack Obama in his Jan. 25 State of the Union address will likely exclude the country’s foreign affairs budget, according to a U.S. official.

The proposed freeze on nonsecurity, discretionary spending “is the guidance for all departments, and so our budgets going forward will reflect that we clearly are very keen to preserve our foreign affairs funding in order to be best able to advance U.S. interests,” U.S. National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said in a Jan. 27 press briefing.

“And that’s really what the U.S. taxpayer dollars are meant for and that’s what – whether it’s the State Department or USAID or other government agencies like the Department of Defense do in executing their mission, and that is putting the dollars to good work to advance American interests around the world,” he added.

In 2010, Obama proposed a three-year discretionary spending freeze, which exempts defense and homeland security programs as well as those managed by the State and Veterans Affairs departments.

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Meantime, Hammer also said the U.S. government will support reforms at the United Nations Security Council, adding that “in some ways, the UN no longer reflects some of the realities of today.”

Hammer acknowledged that these reforms will take “considerable” effort and time.  

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    Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a staff writer, Rizza focuses mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID. She covers breaking business news particularly at the ADB and has conducted interviews with specialists from the Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank and other top players in international development. Rizza also contributes to the daily Development Newswire and other Devex publications.