The Ryan Budget: What it means for poverty-fighting foreign aid

Last week, the House Budget Committee agreed on a Budget Resolution for next year, proposing sharp cuts to International Affairs programs. The discretionary spending total of $49.1 billion is 10.5% below levels for this year and 12.6% less than the Administration’s request for FY2013. This would be the smallest International Affairs budget since FY2008. Moreover, Committee out-year projections continue to decrease International Affairs for FY2014 before assuming small annual increases for the next eight years. But for the next decade, funding would remain smaller than for this year.

How does the Committee suggest reducing the International Affairs budget? Although the Appropriations Committee will have the final say in which programs are cut, the House Budget Committee offers several recommendations, some of significant concern to ONE priorities.

  • Eliminate Feed the Future. This signature Presidential food security initiative aims to help countries improve agricultural production and raise nutrition levels, especially for the young, with a long-term goal of making nations more self-reliant and less dependent on foreign aid. Yet, in the Committee’s mistaken view, Feed the Future duplicates food aid programs which ship American commodities overseas to help countries feed themselves. External food assistance, while necessary in food insecure and emergency situations, perpetuates dependency and delays the day when foreign aid is no longer necessary.
  • Merge USAID development assistance programs with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and make MCC the lead development agency. USAID and MCC maintain very different development strategies. USAID addresses broad and comprehensive development objectives while the MCC deals with a smaller set of best-performing countries to promote economic growth and reduce poverty. Both models are necessary. And it is unclear how this might save money unless the Committee assumes that the US would eliminate programs in about 55 countries – some of them the very poorest – where MCC does not work.
  • Reduce international disaster assistance. For the past four years, US disaster relief has averaged $991 million annually. The Administration’s $960 million request is 3% less than the pace at which the United States has responded with life-saving emergency food, shelter, water, health care and other emergency interventions for victims of conflict and natural disasters around the world. The budget request hardly seems extravagant.

Here’s what’s next: The House will vote this week on the Budget Resolution. With House passage and a Senate Budget Committee procedural motion, House and Senate Appropriations are ready to start their work. That’s why ONE is calling on Congress RIGHT NOW to protect programs that fight HIV/AIDS and hunger, save lives, and help the world’s poor pull themselves out of poverty. Join us: