House bill strong on security, weak in diplomacy, foreign aid
WASHINGTON — House Republicans proposed slashing billions of dollars in diplomacy and overseas aid programs on Thursday in legislation that will face fierce opposition from the Obama administration and the Democratic-led Senate.
The House appropriations committee's 2014 foreign operations bill would give full funding to embassy security, with the goal of preventing a repeat of last year's deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya. The measure would maintain security money for allies Israel and Jordan.
But it would cut heavily in other areas, taking spending down to $34.1 billion. That's $8 billion, or about 20 percent, less than last year. Along with proposed cuts to the Internal Revenue Service, the measure includes some of the most severe elements of the GOP's cost-cutting effort.
“Given all of the country's needs and fiscal realities, we must prioritize our very limited funds on only the most important international activities,” said the committee chairman, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky.
His bill, he said, decreases spending for “lower-priority programs or those that we simply cannot afford at this time.”
Those include all of the State Department's money to combat climate change and promote clean technology, as well as funding for several U.N. and international organizations.
The federal Agency for International Development's budget would drop about 11 percent to $1.4 billion, while the State Department's funding level for foreign government assistance would fall by a fourth to $17.3 billion.
Tough conditions would be attached on aid to Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan and the Palestinians.
Republicans are seeking again to block U.S. funds to any U.N. body or international family planning group that may be involved in abortion, a change that the Senate has knocked down several times since Obama overturned the policy of President George W. Bush.
Much in the bill is unlikely to become law. Since leaving the Senate to become America's top diplomat, Secretary of State John Kerry has repeatedly made the case that foreign assistance programs represent less than 1 percent of the federal budget, far less than the impression given by some lawmakers. The White House, too, opposes extreme cuts to foreign operations.
“We are very concerned,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters. “These proposed cuts, which would be devastating if put into effect, would hurt our ability to stand up for American interests and values around the world. The U.S. can't lead if we retreat in this way.”
Harf said the proposed 41 percent cut in economic development assistance would hurt countries suffering from severe poverty, such as Afghanistan and Somalia, and regional partners such as Mexico and Colombia; and force cutbacks in anti-hunger programs in Africa.
Like other agencies, the State Department has had to adapt to across-the-board automatic spending reductions that went into effect earlier this year. The cuts forced the United States to cut $2.6 billion in global humanitarian aid, security funds and other programs in some of the world's most unstable regions.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Giant hole forms near golf course
- Obama reaches out to Jewish community
- Senate OKs fast-track trade bill sought by Obama
- Couple pleads not guilty in Kentucky bourbon thefts
- Cuban talks to continue
- Senate still works on NSA proposal as deadline nears
- Police officials rethink approach to training
- As oil production soars, so do pipeline leaks
- Coal’s worst fears affirmed in analysis of Obama climate plan
- 28 evacuated as fire hits oil platform off Louisiana coast
- D.C. mansion murder suspect had help, police say