RENO, Nevada — Since taking office in January 2021, President Biden and his administration have championed a series of foreign policy initiatives aimed at bolstering developing nations’ economies and promoting political stability and peace. During his run for the presidency, Biden made promises with regard to restoring the U.S. international affairs budget and improving diplomatic ties with U.S. allies around the world.
Notably, the political and economic state of the world has changed drastically over the first two years of Biden’s presidency, from the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February to the global inflation crisis. Amidst these and other developments, the administration has pursued a policy platform for foreign aid in 2022 that focuses on America’s strengthened role as a major global health donor, expanding humanitarian aid and boosting economic growth, promoting democracy and human rights and an unwavering commitment to gender equality.
Biden’s Foreign Aid Budget
For the fiscal year 2023, which began on October 1, 2022, the Biden administration’s proposed budget requests $60.4 billion in funding for the U.S. Department of State and USAID, exceeding last year’s request by nearly $2 billion. Throughout this budget request, the administration prioritizes global leadership and the use of diplomacy and development as key tenets of effective foreign policy. Globally, this funding seeks to sustain diplomatic relationships with partner nations, extend developmental programs across Africa and Asia and facilitate greater “peace, prosperity and security across the Indo-Pacific and Europe.”
Funding for Global Health
Biden’s funding request for FY23 includes $10.6 billion for U.S.-led initiatives to promote global health and fight the emergence and spread of infectious diseases. The administration’s proposed aid to global health indicates a commitment to the ongoing fight against malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDs, as well as to prevent and respond to future pandemics like COVID-19, according to the U.S. Department of State.
In addition, the administration has made enhancing nutrition and promoting sexual and reproductive health top priorities among its initiatives, which also include significant investments in bolstering nations’ capabilities to provide fundamental health services and respond better to crises.
Boosting Economic Growth
Since taking office, President Biden has overseen provisions of targeted economic assistance all over the world, including to the Middle East, Africa, Indo-Pacific and Central America. One region where the administration is ramping up its efforts later this year is Central America, where the president’s proposed budget would invest nearly $1 billion in the region, in an effort to effect structural socioeconomic change and tackle the underlying causes of migration, according to the U.S. Department of State.
This investment builds on the work the administration has already done to support the region. In April 2021, Vice President Harris announced that the federal government would provide $310 million in humanitarian aid to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. This initiative involved coordinated efforts by the U.S. Department of State, USAID and the Department of Defense to administer aid to migrants and refugees, with the ultimate goal of addressing regional poverty by reducing food insecurity and stimulating economic recovery and job opportunities.
Promoting Democracy and Human Rights
The Biden administration has made concrete achievements in the realm of promoting democracy and human rights. The administration held the first international Summit for Democracy in December 2021 and the event is expected to occur again later this year, bringing together leaders from around the world in support of democracy, according to the U.S. Department of State.
Amidst the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the White House has prioritized utilizing multilateral organizations like NATO and strong U.S. leadership to bring together European countries in support of democracy. In total, as of October 2022, the U.S. has delivered more than $17.5 billion in aid to Ukraine since the crisis began.
This fall, Biden’s proposed budget includes $3.2 billion in funding to uphold and protect human rights, combat corruption and the rise of authoritarian regimes, and promote democratic governance, the U.S. Department of State reports.
Gender Equality and Foreign Aid in 2022
On March 8, 2022, the White House announced the largest-ever gender equality budget request of $2.6 billion from Congress, doubling last year’s budget. The money, included in the administration’s proposed FY 2023 budget, will be allocated to foreign aid programs that promote gender equality around the globe. In context with recent years, this positive funding trajectory signals a departure from the significant reductions in the requested foreign aid budget for gender equality during the Trump administration.
President Biden also established the White House Gender Policy Council in March 2021 by Executive Order, giving increased visibility to the issue and reaffirming its prioritization across all federal government agencies, in coordination with international aid efforts.
Last October, USAID Administrator Samantha Power reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to focusing its efforts on localized development that helps women and girls. Among newly created programs is the Women’s Inclusion in New Security, which will “support women-led civil society organizations in addressing peace and security challenges in their communities and offer rapid-response funding to activists.” Other initiatives include increasing girls’ access to education and economic opportunities and reducing gender-based violence.
Over the remainder of 2022, the administration will continue to implement and expand its foreign aid initiatives. As President Biden approaches the halfway point for his first term in office, his administration’s achievements so far suggest significant promise for the trajectory of U.S. foreign aid in 2022 and beyond.
– Oliver De Jonghe