Letter to Appropriations Committee membersPDF Version
September 21, 2010
TO: Members of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittees, and Leadership of House and Senate Appropriations Committees
As you work to finalize the 2011 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, we write to share concerns regarding funding and report language on the Civilian Stabilization Initiative (CSI), and to offer a recommendation regarding the Complex Crises Fund. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, Secretary Gates, and Secretary Clinton have repeatedly called for strengthening civilian capacities to help prevent and mitigate crises, so the U.S. can avoid pouring billions more into war and military intervention after conflicts erupt into violence. The subcommittee’s decision to severely cut the CSI program and limit the ability of the State Department to deploy the CRC, just as it is beginning to develop into a more effective civilian tool for averting crises, threatens to cost billions in the coming years as the U.S. resorts to relying on late military reaction to crises rather than investing in early prevention.
1.. Civilian Stabilization Initiative (CSI) – We are deeply concerned by the drastic cuts to the CSI account, which funds the Civilian Response Corps (CRC) and the State Department’s Office for the Coordinator of Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS). The House has included only $85 million, less than half of the administration’s request. Even worse, the Senate has provided only $50 million, one-third of current year funding for CSI. We understand CSI funding was significantly reduced for 2011 because S/CRS anticipated a significant carry over of funding from 2010. However, as you may be aware, a rescission of $70 million to 2010 funding for CSI was included in the teachers’ jobs bill, now passed by Congress and signed by the President. While the CRC and S/CRS might have been able to absorb one of these funding cuts, the impact of a double 2010 and 2011 reduction in funding puts the entire endeavor at risk.
This dramatic reduction in funding for these new programs comes at exactly the wrong time. The CRC – a new corps of civilian experts trained and deployed to help prevent and mitigate conflict – now includes over 1,200 active and standby members who are supporting critical diplomatic and development efforts in some of the most troubled spots in the world, including Afghanistan, Sudan, and Kyrgyzstan. Congress only first authorized the CRC in 2008, and it has operated on a near shoestring budget for the mission it has been given: to help prevent and rebuild after wars. The FY 2011 request of $184 million for the Civilian Stabilization Initiative was already a significant reduction from the FY 2010 request of $323 million and a modest increase from FY 2010 appropriated funding of $150 million. We urge you to include $100 million for the CSI account in the final bill. At a bare minimum, we recommend no less than the House’s mark of $85 million.
In addition, we are deeply troubled by the Senate language restricting any CSI funding to be used for future deployments in 2011. While we understand and share the concerns that S/CRS and the CRC need to assess lessons learned and develop a clear and strategic mission, the Senate’s language would severely handicap the CRC and the U.S.’s ability to continue strengthening its civilian capacities to prevent and respond to crises. The potential for crises unfolding in 2011 in places like Sudan, Yemen, or Kenya remains high, and the U.S. needs the capacity to deploy the CRC to help prevent and respond to such situations. Finally, the Senate’s suggestion that other funds be used for deployments, including the Complex Crises Fund, are unrealistic given the already limited funding civilian agencies have and the political challenges of sharing funding across agencies. Moreover, the appropriators themselves direct the Complex Crises Fund primarily to USAID, without recommending that it should be used for the CRC, which is run by S/CRS.
We strongly urge you not to include the Senate’s language restricting CSI funding from being used for future deployments in the final bill.
2. Complex Crises Fund (CCF) – We appreciate both the House and Senate’s inclusion of a small increase in funding for the Complex Crises Fund – a much-needed new fund for civilian agencies to help prevent and respond to emerging crises. First appropriated by Congress in 2010 at $50 million, we welcome the small increases to the fund included by both the House and Senate in the 2011 bill. Of concern, however, is the limiting way in which Congress has directed the fund primarily to one civilian agency rather than employing the fund to leverage both diplomatic and development tools to respond to crises, as different situations require different approaches. We believe the CCF should help USAID and the State Department better coordinate crisis prevention and response activities, not fuel interagency competition for resources. Congressional direction to establish effective joint authority over the CCF would enable State and USAID to better coordinate and align the particular resources each brings to helping prevent deadly conflict.
We urge you to include the Senate funding of $57 million for the Complex Crises Fund in the final bill. We recommend you replace current language giving authority over the CCF primarily to USAID with language directing State and USAID to work out a joint authority mechanism for effectively sharing the CCF in 2011.
We appreciate your hard work to devote scarce resources to effective international engagement. We believe these small programs, if funded and supported adequately, can play a critical role in saving lives and treasure by helping prevent and mitigate violent conflict.
Peaceful Prevention of Deadly Conflict