Deep and Dangerous Cuts to International Affairs Budget Would Make America Less Safe

Analysis of the Administration’s FY18 “Skinny” International Affairs Budget

Report through U.S. Global Leadership Coalition – March 16, 2017 

In keeping with promises to shrink the federal bureaucracy and with a priority placed on the “deconstruction of the administrative state”, the Administration today released its FY18 “skinny” budget, which includes a proposal to slash the State Department and USAID by 31% from current levels. It would also cut Treasury’s International Programs by 35%. The draconian and disproportionate cuts to these programs—which have long been key pillars of U.S. national security—would take funding levels for development and diplomacy programs back to levels not seen since 9/11.

The budget includes topline agency totals for the Defense and Non-Defense Discretionary (NDD) budgets, but provides little detail related to specific program funding levels. The proposal increases spending for the Department of Defense by $54 billion but makes deep, historic cuts to the NDD budget by the same level.

Specifically, the State Department and other international programs receive the most severe cuts compared to all federal agencies, along with the Environmental Protection Agency.

A few details:

  •  The budget includes a total of $37.6 billion for the State Department and USAID, a 31% cut from the FY17 Continuing Resolution (CR). This includes base funding ($25.6 billion) and Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding ($12 billion). If enacted, this would be the lowest level of funding for these programs since FY02 in real (inflation adjusted) terms.
  • The budget cuts base funding alone by 28% – perpetuating an overreliance on OCO funds (meant to be temporary in nature) to address long-term, enduring challenges.
  • The budget also includes $1.5 billion for Department of Treasury International Programs, a 35% cut compared to current levels.
  • Funding levels for sub-cabinet agencies, like the Millennium Challenge Corporation and Peace Corps, are unclear.

Already there is significant pushback against these cuts.

Last week, more than 120 retired generals and admirals wrote to congressional leadership saying “now is not the time to retreat” and today, more than 100 conservative faith leaders sent a similar message. In the few hours since the Administration unveiled its proposal, it has been rejected on all fronts – from Freedom Caucus members like Representative Ted Yoho (R-FL) to House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY).

Simply put, cutting one-third of our civilian forces of development and diplomacy at a time of extreme global threats, famines of historic proportions, and a refugee crisis not seen since World War II is unimaginable. USGLC released this statement in response to the Administration’s budget, urging Congress to oppose these cuts and protect level funding for the International Affairs Budget.



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