ST. PAUL, Minnesota — On July 6, 2021, Representative Barbara Lee [D-CA] introduced the H.R. 4373 bill to the House of Representatives. The bill, called the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act, seeks to increase U.S. foreign aid. This article is a guide to the legislation. It provides key components of the bill, evaluates its likelihood of passing and offers ways to support its journey through Congress.
No official summary of the bill has been released thus far. However, the text of the bill itself, alongside the report provided by the Committee on Appropriations, describes what the enacted bill would do to increase U.S. foreign aid.
One of the main goals of the bill is to strengthen the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. The act was developed during the Kennedy administration in an attempt to hasten the then-current foreign aid system, which the president himself described as “bureaucratically fragmented, awkward and slow.” Primarily, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 allowed for faster and longer-lasting program authorization. It also allocated funding to development assistance, which was used to fight the growing threat of communism at the time.
The new H.R. 4373 bill accompanies a budget request of more than $62.2 billion for the 2022 fiscal year to be put toward U.S. foreign aid. The text itself contains thousands of specific provisions for very detailed circumstances.
The Four Categories
Overall, the actions of the bill can be broken down into four categories: diplomacy, security, economy and specialty.
- First: If enacted, the bill would provide for diplomatic aid missions. This category includes training, the creation of embassies and other forms of support.
- Second: More than $4 billion is allocated towards Worldwide Security Protection. In addition, billions of dollars will go toward global security elsewhere.
- Third: Many of the bill’s provisions address economic development and relief. The U.S. benefits from investing in developing nations because it adds consumers to the market. Additionally, the proposition of this bill is purposefully timely, encouraging the U.S. government to spend more on COVID-19 relief.
- Fourth: The bill contains many specialty provisions. These include funds for everything from cybersecurity to government transparency to protecting children from violence and disease.
Through this bill, the U.S. could increase global security, aid minorities and children, support developing nations, boost its own economy and so much more. This would all cost less than 8% of the nation’s annual military spending.
However beneficial it would be to increase U.S. foreign aid, it will first have to pass the test of Congress. Right now, that appears to be an uphill battle. According to Skopos Labs, there is a 55% chance that Congress will not enact the bill. The same algorithm that provided that number predicted 70.2% of 28,000 court decisions between 1816 to 2015 with a 71.9% accuracy rate for justices’ votes. So, what can be done to increase this likelihood?
Encouraging local representatives to cosponsor the bill is the most significant way to improve the chances of Congress passing H.R. 4373. Often, representatives will cosponsor a bill after hearing from just seven to 10 constituents. To show support for this bill, people can visit The Borgen Project’s website to send a prepared email template to your representative. Then, call their representatives to voice support for H.R. 4373. With enough supporters, representatives will be more likely to back the bill.
– Sam Konstan