Another House Bill that Would Fuel, Not Prevent, War
Posted on 07/28/2011 @ 12:30 PM
Today, the House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee will mark up its Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations bill. While the name of this subcommittee is quite a mouthful, they are essentially in charge of appropriating the United States’ international affairs budget each year. This budget includes some of the accounts that we follow very closely; the Complex Crises Fund, the Civilian Response Corps, and U.S. dues to the U.N.
Unfortunately, the version that the House is considering today is very bad news for these accounts and for the peaceful prevention of deadly conflict in U.S. foreign policy. The entire bill appropriates $47.2 billion, about 1/5th less than the President’s request. Such a deep and draconian cut to the U.S.’s international affairs budget, much like the Authorization bill recently passed by the House foreign Affairs Committee, would set a dangerous precedent in U.S. foreign policy. As the Subcommittee’s ranking member Rep. Nita Lowey (NY) pointed out in her opening remarks today, “this legislation would be a step back from U.S. leadership and substantially weaken the U.S.'s efforts overseas.” Although this legislation will have to pass through the Senate before it becomes law, it sets a dismal tone for the negotiations with the Senate that will follow, most likely after the August recess.
This bill would completely zero out funding for the Complex Crises Fund, a small amount of flexible funding that the State Department and USAID can use to respond to crises and conflicts that erupt with little warning. FCNL lobbied hard for the establishment of this fund and we believe that it is an essential tool of conflict prevention.
This legislation would cut funding for the Civilian Response Corps by almost 2/3 of the President’s request for FY2012, which itself is significantly lower than it has been in past years. We are concerned that the CRC will not be able to keep its doors open for the next year at such low levels of funding.
The U.S. Institute of Peace is funded at 42% less than the President’s request and 36% below last year’s levels. This would undermine USIP’s important work by helping prevent and mitigate deadly conflict in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, and educating the US public on peacebuilding and conflict resolution.
The news is a little better for U.N. funding, as this bill would cut about $300 million (down to $1.34 billion) for general U.N. funding and allocates about $450 million less than is needed for U.N. peacekeeping (down to $1.69 billion). However, this means that the U.S. would go back into debt to the international community.
Finally, the bill completely zeroes out funding for several international climate investment funds, which provide funding to developing countries to build resilience to the impacts of climate change and reduce deforestation. FCNL sees climate change adaptation funding as important to helping prevent violent conflict caused by the impacts of climate change (see our new flyer, “3 Ways Climate Change Can Fuel Deadly Conflict” for more info).