Bill will target funding to critical diplomatic and security missions, humanitarian crisis response
WASHINGTON, DC -- The House Appropriations Committee today released the fiscal year 2018 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The legislation funds the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development, and other international activities.
The bill will target funding to U.S. foreign policy priorities, including critical diplomatic and security missions to increase stability and security. It also contains funding to bolster U.S. allies and key partners in strategic and challenging areas of the world, and provides critical humanitarian aid. In addition, the legislation contains strong oversight measures and reductions to nonessential or lower-priority international programs to protect and save taxpayer dollars.
In total, the bill provides $47.4 billion in both regular discretionary and Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. This total is $10 billion below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level, when counting additional funds provided in the Security Assistance Appropriations Act of 2017. Within this amount, OCO funding totals $12 billion, which supports operations and assistance in areas of conflict, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
“In the wake of ever-growing international threats and challenges – such as North Korea’s recent missile test – it is more important than ever for the U.S. to invest in robust diplomatic and global efforts to ensure stability around the world and the security of our nation and our allies,” Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen said. “This bill will target funding to where it’s needed the most, ensure U.S. dollars are being put to good use to expand democracy and peace, and provide critical humanitarian assistance in war-torn, disaster-affected, and impoverished areas or the world.”
State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chairman Hal Rogers said:
“The United States maintains her global leadership position through iron-clad diplomatic partnerships, a strong national defense, and unwavering efforts to fight terrorism and transnational crime. Our ability to continue investments in diplomacy and development, alongside our military, makes our nation stronger and safer,” said Chairman Rogers. “This bill provides robust funding to support our allies and partners in the fight against terrorism and countering in Russian aggression, prioritizes resources needed to keep U.S. personnel safe, and strengthens oversight measures to provide accountability to the U.S. taxpayer.”
State Department Operations and Related Agencies – The bill contains a total of $15.4 billion in base and OCO funding for the operational costs of the State Department and related agencies, as well as diplomacy efforts to enhance peace and stability around the globe. This is a decrease of $2.6 billion below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level, but is sufficient to maintain necessary operations.
Within this amount, the legislation provides $6.1 billion for embassy security, the same as the fiscal year 2017 enacted level, excluding one-time appropriations of $1.5 billion provided in the Security Assistance Appropriations Act, 2017. These funds will address needs at more than 275 diplomatic facilities overseas, including facility upgrades and security personnel as recommended in the Benghazi Accountability Review Board report.
To meet these and other needs, the bill reduces funding for assessed payments to the United Nations (UN) and international organizations by $600 million compared to the fiscal year 2017 enacted level.
International Security Assistance – The bill provides a total of $8.8 billion in base and OCO funding for international security assistance. This is $624 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level.
Funds are included for international narcotics control and law enforcement activities, antiterrorism programs, nonproliferation programs, peacekeeping operations, and other critical international security efforts. Antiterrorism programs that assist in the fight to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other terrorist groups are funded at $358 million. The bill also provides funding to fight terrorist financing networks and bolster border and airport security.
In addition, the legislation provides security assistance to key allies and partners. The bill fully funds the $3.1 billion commitment to Israel, marking the last year of the current 10-year memorandum of understanding between the United States and Israel totaling $30 billion. The bill continues strong support for Foreign Military Financing programs for Ukraine, Georgia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia – at or above current levels.
The bill maintains robust funding for counter-narcotics and law enforcement efforts in Colombia, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. The legislation also fully funds the $58 million request to address international organized crime and increases funding to combat cybercrime.
United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Operations – The bill contains $1.5 billion for USAID and the USAID Office of Inspector General – a decrease of $115 million from the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. The legislation also includes oversight measures to ensure the proper management of development programs and the appropriate use of U.S. funds.
Bilateral Economic Assistance – The legislation contains a total of $22.7 billion in base and OCO funding for bilateral economic assistance to foreign countries – a decrease of $4.2 billion from the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. This funding is targeted to activities to provide stability in volatile regions and enhance U.S. presence in critical and strategic areas. Within this amount, programs that support development assistance, global health, and humanitarian assistance are prioritized, as well as economic support for key partners like Jordan. In addition, the bill includes $6 billion to fight HIV/AIDS around the globe.
Multilateral Assistance – The legislation provides $888 million for assistance to foreign countries through international organizations and banks, a cut of $1.2 billion below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level.
The bill does not include funding for several controversial or unnecessary programs, including:
- The Green Climate Fund,
- International debt relief,
- The UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and
- The UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
- Syria – The bill allows funding to be used for non-lethal aid. Oversight and vetting of recipients is required, and Congress must be notified before any funds are made available.
- Egypt – The bill provides economic and security assistance if Egypt sustains its strategic partnership with the United States and adheres to the peace treaty with Israel.
- Afghanistan – The recommendation includes conditions on assistance for transparency, accountability, and other requirements, including prohibiting funds for new major infrastructure projects.
- Palestinian Authority –The bill maintains restrictions on the Palestinian Authority (PA), including a requirement to reduce funds to the Palestinians by an amount equivalent to that expended by the PA as payments to prisoners that committed acts of terrorism, prohibiting funding if there is a Palestinian government formed through an agreement with Hamas or if the Palestinians are not acting to counter incitement. The bill also includes a provision restricting Palestinians’ representation in the U.S. if they initiate or actively support an International Criminal Court investigation against Israel.
- Countering Russian Influence and Aggression – The bill maintains the fiscal year 2017 level for Ukraine and Georgia to respond to instability caused by Russian aggression and provides $105,000,000 for the Countering Russian Influence Fund.
- Records management – To address problems with record-keeping, transparency, and responsiveness at the State Department and USAID, the bill:
- Prohibits funds to use private email accounts or servers; and
- Maintains the fiscal year 2017 level for Freedom of Information Act activities to ensure requests receive responses in a timely manner
- Guantanamo Bay – The bill requires a notification to Congress if the State Department commits to providing assistance to foreign governments that accept Guantanamo detainees.
- Assistance to Foreign Governments and Local Organizations – The bill requires certain conditions to be met before the Administration can give funds directly to foreign governments and local organizations.
- Multi-Year Funding Commitments – The legislation includes congressional oversight requirements before the Administration can make multi-year funding commitments to foreign countries or international organizations.
- UN Reform – The bill provides no funding for the Human Rights Council unless the Secretary of State determines that it is in the national security interest and the Council stops its anti-Israel agenda and increases transparency in the elections of its members. The bill also prohibits funds for UN organizations headed by countries that support terrorism, and withholds a portion of funds for the UN and international organizations until transparency and accountability measures are met. No funds are provided for the UN capital master plan in New York.
- North Africa Strategy Requirement –The bill includes a new provision requiring the Secretary of State to submit a strategy for United States engagement in North Africa, including information on how diplomatic engagement and assistance will be prioritized for the region.
- Arms Trade Treaty – The legislation prohibits funding to implement the UN Arms Trade Treaty.
- Coal – The bill overrides the anti-coal regulations of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Export-Import Bank, and World Bank, and allows the financing of coal-fired and other power generation projects by U.S. companies overseas. This provision will bolster U.S. job creation and ensure quality, cost-effective technology for developing and other nations.
- Expands the Mexico City Policy, a policy prohibiting U.S. assistance to foreign nongovernmental organizations that promote or perform abortions, to all global health programs;
- Prohibits funding for UNFPA, and caps family planning and reproductive health programs at $461 million, the fiscal year 2008 funding level; and
- Maintains longstanding pro-life riders, including the “Tiahrt Amendment,” which ensures family planning programs are voluntary; the “Helms Amendment,” which bans foreign aid from being spent on abortions; and the “Kemp-Kasten Amendment,” which prohibits funds to organizations the President determines to support coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.