WASHINGTON — The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 was signed into law on November 2nd. The bill includes the federal government’s priorities on foreign aid for 2016.
The following is an analysis of U.S. foreign aid priorities by the numbers:
State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs (SFOPS):
Administration’s Request: $54.08 billion
House Appropriations: $48.19 billion
Senate Appropriations: $49.77 billion
State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs represent the entire non-military foreign assistance budget with the exception of some food aid, which is appropriated in the agriculture budget. The administration’s request, $54.08 billion, is less than one percent of the total federal budget compared to the more than $600 billion spent on defense, and a portion of that funding goes to administrative costs. Both the House and Senate approved less funding than the president requested — a result of budget-wide spending cuts.
Global Health Initiatives:
Administration’s Request: $8.18 billion
House Appropriations: $8.45 billion
Senate Appropriations: $8.46 billion
The administration’s request for $8.18 billion in funding for global health will primarily target HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health and infectious diseases programs. This is a slight reduction from the previous year’s funding. The president had planned on scaling back the Global Fund, the multilateral account contained within the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Foreign aid priorities for the administration have shifted to vaccines for 2016, and some of the Global Fund dollars would have been redirected to those programs.
Both congressional appropriations committees rejected the White House reduction in Global Fund contributions and also proposed additional funding for nutrition and programs for vulnerable children.
Feed the Future:
Administration’s Request: $1 billion
House Appropriations: $1 billion
Senate Appropriations: $1 billion
Feed the Future is a program designed to foster agricultural, nutritional and economic gains in vulnerable rural communities. The $1 billion request for funding will be utilized to promote agricultural resistance to climate change and natural disasters with Guinea and Sierra Leone being the primary recipients of aid in 2016. The House Appropriations Committee approved funding for this program; however, members rejected funding for the multilateral fund within this campaign. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved of the plan as proposed.
Administration’s Request: $250 million
House Appropriations: $0
Senate Appropriations: $113.55 million
The Obama Administration’s foreign aid priorities in Africa for 2016 are the Power Africa and Trade in Africa programs.
A joint effort between development agencies and private companies, Power Africa is designed to provide 60 million households and businesses in sub-Saharan African countries with more than 30,000 megawatts of new energy. Of $250 million, the president requested $77 million for this initiative. The House Appropriations Committee rejected all funding for this initiative, but said in a statement that it supports multilateral peacekeeping efforts in the region. The Senate approved $76 million.
Trade in Africa is a component of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which is intended to foster burgeoning economies in sub-Saharan African countries through duty-free imports of their manufactured goods into the U.S. This program also involves training and educating programs to build sustainable manufacturing growth. The president requested $47 million to accomplish this goal, but both the House and Senate rejected funding for this program.
U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America:
Administration’s Request: $1 billion
House Appropriations: $296 million
Senate Appropriations: $675.3 million
This request is especially notable considering it represents a 225 percent increase from funding levels in 2014. The president’s objective is to reduce undocumented migration by fostering economic prosperity and security in Central America. These funds would go to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala primarily. A $287 million portion of the funding is also designated for use by the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), which is aimed at disrupting organized crime and bolstering state security forces in the region.
The House approved $296 million for CARSI, but it did not allocate funding for non-security programs. The Senate approved $675 million for Central America including allocations for CARSI, health and development programs.
The House and Senate both approved less money than was requested, which was expected considering the reductions Congress is aiming to achieve in the deficit. While HIV/AIDS relief was a clear foreign aid priority for Congress and the administration, the House placed more focus on regional security initiatives than development programs. The Senate, on the other hand, seemed to split its focus equitably.