July 9, 2009
House Passes Unprecedented Spending Increases for the State Department and
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House today passed the Fiscal Year 2010 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. The legislation totals $48.8 billion in spending, which is $12 billion or 33% above last year’s level, not including supplemental funding.
While the bill contains funding for important programs, including those that promote security and economic growth in the developing world, activities to fight illegal drug trafficking in Mexico, and security assistance to our strategic allies such as Israel, Egypt, and Jordan, the bill’s massive, unprecedented 33% increase in funding is irresponsible and unsustainable.
Specifically, Lewis and House Republicans objected to the $4 billion increase for the State Department and related agencies, including an 11% percent increase for contributions to international organizations such as the United Nations and a $330 million increase for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to fund 300 new Foreign Service officers and overseas office space expansion.
“A 33% increase in spending on international programs is not only unnecessary, it is appalling given the state of our economy here at home. We simply cannot expect Americans to pony up an additional $12 billion for foreign countries while we are facing a long-term recession, 9.5% unemployment, trillions in debt that we will be repaying for generations, and two wars overseas,” House Appropriations Ranking Republican Jerry Lewis said.
Lewis and Appropriations Committee Member John Culberson offered an amendment to trim $591 million from the bill from international financial assistance programs, including the World Bank and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). This amendment would have eliminated the increases for these programs – returning them to last year’s funding level. This amendment was rejected by House Democrats on a vote of 174-256.
In addition, Republicans strongly opposed the process under which the bill was considered on the House Floor. The legislation was considered under a “closed rule” – which meant that Members of Congress were unable to offer amendments to the legislation on the floor. This unprecedented practice is counter to decades of precedent and traditional practices for Appropriations bills. Democrat leaders claim the expedited process is necessary to complete the House’s work before the August recess – an arbitrary and self-imposed deadline.