WASHINGTON, DC — On July 19, the Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2018 State and Foreign Operations Bill. This bill funds international activities through organizations like the State Department and USAID.
These funds are important in providing humanitarian aid to countries around the world, including poverty alleviation and disaster relief. In addition, these funds are targeting U.S. foreign policy priorities which include national security and stability missions.
The current bill provides $47.4 billion to regular discretionary and Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). OCO is determined by the Secretary of Defense, whereby an operation involving military personnel may become involved in military actions, operations or hostilities against an enemy or opposing military force of the U.S. In this bill, OCO is designated at $12 billion, which supports operations in areas of conflict such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.
A further breakdown of where exactly the $47.4 billion is going is as follows:
- $15.4 billion in operational costs for the State Department. This includes $6.1 billion for embassy security to protect the 275 diplomatic facilities abroad.
- $8.8 billion for international security assistance through OCO and base funding.
- $3.1 billion fund commitment to Israel, a key ally in the Middle East.
- $58 million to counter international organized crime and increase cybersecurity.
- $1.5 billion for USAID and USAID Office of Inspector General.
- $22.7 billion in OCO funding for bilateral economic assistance to foreign countries.
- $888 million for assistance to countries abroad through international organizations and banks. This area saw a cut of a billion from the previous fiscal year.
Programs that did not receive funding under the current State and Foreign Operations Bill include The Green Climate Fund, international debt relief, the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA). UNESCO is particularly important to note since it runs and funds operations for World Heritage Sites as well as provides quality education to children around the globe that need it.
Although the State and Foreign Operations Bill has not yet passed, and as individuals concerned with foreign aid, it is important to note the decrease in funding for organizations like USAID and others. What is even more pressing are the programs not receiving funding at all.
– Sydney Roeder