Senate panel OKs 2013 international affairs spending bill

Leather chairs in the Senate hearing room of the Wisconsin State Capitol. The 2013 state and foreign operations budget will be scheduled for a full Senate vote. Photo by: Mark Sadowski / CC BY-SA

U.S. development nongovernmental organizations have praised the Senate Appropriations Committee for approving Thursday (May 24) a $52.1 billion budget to fund U.S. State and foreign operations in fiscal 2013.

The committee voted 29-1 to send the 2013 state and foreign operations appropriations bill to the full Senate floor for consideration.  It is still unclear when the bill will be scheduled for a full Senate vote.

Leading NGO network InterAction welcomed the committee’s move, saying the bill shows “wisdom and courage” to support international development and humanitarian aid programs. It also encouraged Congress to adopt the funding levels proposed by the Senate instead of the allocations proposed by the House of Representatives.

The House version of the 2013 spending bill is also now up for consideration by the full chamber.  It provides $48.3 billion for core funding and international contingency operations — $3.8 billion less than the Senate version of the bill.

The Senate bill allocates more funding for U.S. global health and humanitarian relief programs, as well as the country’s contributions to international organizations. Compared with the House bill, however, the Senate’s version provides less funding for front-line states such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

The Senate appropriations bill also includes an amendment that slashes $33 million off U.S. military aid to Pakistan for 2013. This amendment was adopted 30-0 in response to Pakistan’s prosecution of a doctor who helped the Central Intelligence Agency track Osama bin Laden. The doctor, Shakil Afridi, was sentenced to 33 years in prison, according to Politico.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.