A week before the House Appropriates Committee is set to outline its budget cuts and set against the backdrop of unrest in Egypt and the Middle East, the battle over the International Affairs budget continues to heat up. A piece in POLITICO today acknowledges the “dramatic reversal of the activist Bush-era philosophy” as the rift grows between GOP old-timers who acknowledge the role the State Department and USAID play in national security and tea party challengers whose primary goal is to cut. The article quotes Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking member Dick Lugar (R-IN), who says, “It’s a new leadership group, and they are attempting to express that they are different and it’s a different time.” State’s spokesman P.J. Crowley told POLITICO, “If we have to take a significant cut in foreign assistance, in some fashion, that is going to affect Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. Those are countries where we have vital interests and vital security concerns.”
Yesterday, Devex posted a story about President Obama’s five-year spending freeze announced in his State of the Union address last week. In a recent press briefing, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer noted that the freeze will likely exclude the International Affairs budget. Hammer continued, the freeze “is the guidance for all departments, and so our budgets going forward will reflect that we clearly are very keen to preserve our foreign affairs funding in order to be best able to advance U.S. interests.” Read more here.
Stay tuned for more to come.