WASHINGTON, D.C.– Every year, around February and March, the United States Congress holds hearings over the various sections of the president’s budget. The world’s eyes are once again on the U.S. as Congress debates the International Affairs Budget of fiscal year (FY) 2015. Led by Secretary of State John Kerry, the State Department must justify their budget request in front of the American people, specifically the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations.
Kerry acknowledges the fact that the International Affairs budget is the most difficult to translate to Americans back home. In this struggling economy, where Congress has yet to pass legislation that addresses employment or long-term poverty, many Americans wonder why we would spend billions in other countries.
According to a Pew Research Center survey, Americans prefer cutting the budget of International Affairs over any other government activity. This is largely because most Americans believe that International Affairs accounts for 10 percent of the overall budget. In reality, the budget contributes to just 1 percent.
The U.S. can do a better job of communicating the benefits of our investment in foreign countries. When we spend money to educate young girls all over the world, we uplift entire communities. When we invest money in infrastructure projects and building roads and bridges, local economies are given the opportunity to connect and prosper, reducing poverty.
Here are a few highlights of the FY2015 International Affairs Budget requests made by Kerry and the State Department:
· Public Diplomacy and Education and Cultural Exchanges ($1.1 billion)- Will support academic programs and professional and cultural exchanges. Free exchange of ideas from young aspiring leaders and the U.S. will forge strong relations in the future. Our diplomacy will ensure informed policy decisions are made that keep our strategic goals in mind
· International Organizations and Peacekeeping ($4.8 billion)- Our partnerships with multilateral organizations are essential to promoting peace and global stability around the world. Peacekeeping missions through the United Nations system and affiliated organizations are essential for ensuring the safety of people in nations like Central African Republic, Somalia, and Mali.
· Feed the Future ($1.0 billion)- This program allows the U.S. to work with other nations in developing sustainable agriculture practices. Working with people at all levels of the production and distribution process, the U.S. aims to reduce global food insecurity and prevent the cycle of food crises afflicting many nations in Africa.
· Global Health Initiative (GHI) ($8.1 billion)- The U.S. GHI will continue to support Presidential initiatives to reduce AIDS throughout the world. Other initiatives include President’s Malaria initiative, maternal and child health, and Tuberculosis, among others. The president has pledged to provide $1 for every $2 donated to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.
U.S. President Barack Obama’s FY2015 International Affairs Budget request is approximately $46.2 billion. This number is 1.2 percent lower than the previous years budget. People can contact your Congressmen in support of the International Affairs Budget so the U.S. can continue its leadership in global affairs.