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Key Committee Approves State Department Funding Bill

June 24, 2009

Yesterday, the House appropriations committee approved the Fiscal Year 2010 State Department funding bill, providing funds for key diplomatic and foreign assistance programs, including U.S. annual contributions to international organizations, such as the United Nations.

FCNL’s Bridget Moix testified before the State and Foreign Operations subcommittee in March. FCNL also submitted a more detailed request to the committee in May, and organized a letter among colleague organizations in support of key programs which help prevent deadly conflict.

Overall, the House appropriations committee approved bill would provide most of the funding requested by the President to increase U.S. diplomatic and development personnel. However, the funding bill fell short on many of the conflict resolution focused initiatives FCNL had supported, including the civilian response corps, crisis prevention initiatives and UN funding.

Specifically, the House appropriations committee approved funds for 1,030 new positions at the State Department. Of these positions, 757 would support core U.S. diplomacy, while the remaining 273 would provide security for these personnel. This is slight decrease in President Obama’s requested for funds to support a total of 1,142 new hires.

The House committee also approved funds for 300 new positions at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to oversee and manage U.S. foreign aid, slightly below the President’s request of 350 new positions for the development agency.

The civilian stabilization initiative, a critical new effort to create a cadre of civilian experts with skills to help stabilize war-torn states, was provided just $155 million, a significant cut from the President’s request of $323 million in funds for the corps. However, this level of funding will still be an increase of $15 million from last year’s funding level for this nascent program.

The committee approved $100 million for the Office of Transitions Initiatives at USAID, which provides aid focused on helping countries transition from deadly conflict to sustainable peace. While a $50 million increase from last year, this committee recommendation was $26 million less than the President’s request.

On peacekeeping, the committee approved $2.125 billion to pay U.S. annual dues for life-saving United Nations peacekeeping operations, a $135 million decrease from the President’s request. However, funds were provided in another bilateral peacekeeping aid account to make up for the cut.

Lastly, the committee approved $1.697 billion for annual contributions to the United Nations budget as well as 44 other critical international organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency and World Health Organization. However, this level of funding is $100 million below the President’s request, and would not fully meet U.S. financial obligations to international organizations this year.

The entire House is expected to consider this spending bill in early July.

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