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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2013 Budget and Appropriations

Susan B. Epstein
Specialist in Foreign Policy

Marian Leonardo Lawson
Analyst in Foreign Assistance

Alex Tiersky
Analyst in Foreign Affairs

International affairs expenditures typically amount to about 1.5% of the total federal budget. While some foreign policy and defense experts view that share as a small price to pay for a robust foreign affairs budget that they believe is essential to meeting national security and foreign policy objectives, others see international affairs spending, particularly foreign aid, as an attractive target for significant spending cuts in order to reduce deficit spending.

On February 13, 2012, the Obama Administration submitted its FY2013 budget proposal. The FY2013 request totaled $54.87 billion for the State-Foreign Operations appropriations, including a core budget proposal of $46.63 billion plus $8.24 billion for extraordinary and temporary warrelated Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) in frontline states. The total request represented an increase of 2.6% over the estimated FY2012 funding level for the foreign affairs accounts, including $18.8 billion (a 4.5% increase) for State Department and Related Agencies and $36.1 billion (a 0.1% increase) for Foreign Operations. Within the regular budget process, the Administration requested authority in addition to appropriations ($770 million) for a new account—the Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund (MENA IF)—to provide flexible and transparent support for Arab Spring countries in transition toward democracy. The foreign affairs request included $8.2 billion for the frontline states of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. For other key accounts, the Administration sought $7.9 billion for the Global Health Programs (GHP) account, $770 million for global climate change activities, and $643 million for family planning and reproductive health activities, including $39 million for the controversial U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA).

Early action by the House and Senate appropriators demonstrated differing priorities and funding levels. The House Appropriations Committee-approved State-Foreign Operations FY2013 funding bill (H.R. 5857/H.Rept. 112-494) would have provided a total of $48.5 billion (including $8.3 billion in OCO and $160 million in rescissions), while the Senate committee bill (S. 3241/S.Rept. 112-172) would have provided a total of $52.3 billion (including $2.3 billion in OCO). Both House and Senate committees provided more than requested for GHP, but differed significantly on funding MENA IF—the House committee provided no funding for it, and the Senate committee recommended $1 billion. The House bill provided $461 million for international family planning and reproductive health activities, prohibited funding for UNFPA, and included a “Mexico City Policy” provision prohibiting funding for organizations that perform or promote abortions. In contrast, the Senate bill included $700 million for international family planning, including $44.5 million for UNFPA, and did not include “Mexico City Policy” language.

The State Department, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies appropriations legislation, in addition to funding U.S. diplomatic and foreign aid activities, has been the primary legislative vehicle through which Congress reviews the U.S. international affairs budget and influences executive branch foreign policy making in recent years. (Congress has not addressed foreign policy issues through a complete authorization process for State Department diplomatic activities since 2003 and since 1985 for foreign aid programs.) After a period of reductions in the late 1980s and 1990s, funding for State Department operations, international broadcasting, and foreign aid rose steadily from FY2002 to FY2010, largely because of ongoing assistance to Iraq and Afghanistan, new global health programs, and increasing assistance to Pakistan. Funding declined by 11.6% in FY2011 when Congress passed a continuing resolution (P.L. 112-10) significantly reducing U.S. government-wide expenditures, including foreign affairs. The FY2012 funding represented a 2.3% increase from the previous year, largely reflecting OCO support for frontline states.

Congress delayed floor consideration of FY2013 appropriations bills until after the start of the new fiscal year and the November 2012 elections, instead enacting a six-month stopgap funding measure that expired in March 2013 (P.L. 112-175). Before that measure expired, Congress approved new legislation on March 21, signed by the President on March 26, 2013 (P.L. 113-6), to fund federal programs through the end of FY2013. Under P.L. 113-6, State-Foreign Operations accounts are funded through a continuing resolution at the same level as in FY2012, though several anomalies were specified in the legislation. For example, funding for Embassy Security, Construction and Maintenance was increased significantly and offset largely by a rescission in unobligated Diplomatic and Consular Programs funds, while the International Disaster and Famine Assistance account received OCO funding, which was not in the FY2012 appropriation. While this report lists FY2013-enacted account level estimates in Appendix C, these funds are subject to the budget sequestration process that is currently in effect, which may significantly reduce the actual funding levels that are made available to agencies.

Date of Report: April 2, 2013
Number of Pages: 37
Order Number: R42621
Price: $29.95

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