The Foreign Service Journal - October 2017

10 OCTOBER 2017 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL TALKING POINTS Senate and House Committees Walk Back State Budget Cuts O n Sept. 7 the Senate Appropria- tions committee reported out a 2018 appropriations bill that included $51.4 billion for State, foreign operations and related programs—nearly $14 billion more that the Trump administration requested. The administration’s request for a near 30 percent cut in the State and USAID budgets was rejected across the board. The bill, which also included several amendments aimed at reigning in the administration’s effort to “redesign” the State Department, was sent to the Senate floor unanimously. “Now is not the time for retreat; now is the time to double down on diplomacy and development,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chair of the appropriations sub- committee on State and foreign aid said, reflecting the bipartisan sentiment of his subcommittee. The House Appropriations commit- tee sent its own State, Foreign Opera- tions, and Related Programs funding bill to the House floor on July 19, and it was approved by the full House on Sept. 14. At $47.4 billion, the House budget for diplomacy and development represents a 17 percent cut from Fiscal Year 2017 levels, according to Politico . Once both houses pass spending bills, they will go to conference for reconcili- ation. The final legislation must then be passed by each house before it is pre- sented to the president. Atlantic Council Presents Roadmap for State Department Reform O n Sept. 6 the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on Inter- national Security released its report on reform of the State Department. Requested by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the report makes a number of recommendations to ensure that the State Department can more efficiently and effectively meet today’s foreign From the Sept. 6 congressional hearing on the 2018 State & Foreign Ops Appropriations Bill held by the Senate Appropriations Subcommit- tee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. America must remain the preeminent power in the world. Today, we face complex challenges from North Korea, Russia, China and ISIL and other extremists. Now is not the time for retreat; now is the time to double down on diplomacy and development. The bill provides vital security, economic, devel- opment, health and humanitarian assistance that makes all Americans safer at home. …Through the bill and report, the subcommittee has articulated its vision of an active American role in the world today. ‘Soft power,’ as it’s commonly called, is an essential ingredient to national security. This bill recognizes and builds upon the significance of ‘soft power.’ —Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee The president sent us a budget that was irre- sponsible and indefensible. We were provided no credible justification for the cuts that were proposed, which would have severely eroded U.S. global leadership. This bill repudiates the president’s reckless budget request, and I commend Chairman Graham for reaffirming the primacy of the Congress in appropriating funds. Chairman Graham and I have been out- spoken in our criticism of sequestration, as have many others. He and I both know this bill does not do enough to protect our national security interests. Underfunding many criti- cal programs—from U.N. peacekeeping to climate change to humanitarian relief for victims of war and natural disasters— is unacceptable for the world’s wealthiest, most powerful nation. Ultimately, the solution lies in a new, bipartisan budget agreement that enables the United States to meet its interna- tional obligations and be the leader we and the world need. —Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee JOSH Heard on the Hill