A positive step forward: Breaking down Obama’s proposed international affairs budget

It’s budget day in Washington!  Your nerdy ONE US Government Relations and Policy teams are busy scouring the President’s ($3.9 trillion)  FY2015 budget request to see how our programs fared.  We have some good news and some not-so-good news to report.

Overall, the International Affairs Budget (IAB) received a small cut of 1.7 percent.  Much of this reduction comes from a cut in the supplementary funds provided in the “Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)” account.  OCO, you’ll recall, is where the government has funded programs largely in Afghanistan/Pakistan and Iraq.  As the wars come to an end, so does the funding.  The base IAB was essentially flat funded.

Despite a small reduction in the overall budget, a couple of our programs received budget increases.  We are thrilled that the President included $200 million for childhood vaccines and immunizations through the GAVI Alliance, an increase of $25 million, or 14.3 percent.  This request is in line with what our Power Summit volunteers were pushing their members of Congress to support last week.  The President also requested $1 billion for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an increase of $102 million, or 11.4 percent.  The MCC budget would support compacts in several sub-Saharan African countries, including Liberia, Niger and Tanzania.

For Feed the Future, the President requested largely flat funding for our bilateral programs.

We also appreciate the President’s strong commitment to The Global Fund with a budget request of $1.35 billion request. By law, this is the limit the US can contribute, as it constitutes one-third of the Global Fund’s overall funding.

The President’s budget continues to highlight the Power Africa initiative and stresses the importance of bringing first time electricity access to millions of people living in sub-Saharan Africa.  This is an important signal to members of Congress that the President remains committed to addressing energy poverty.

Now for the not-so-good news.  We are concerned by the flat funding ($4 billion) for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).  ONE requested an increase of about $500 million this year.  The fight against HIV/AIDS is at a critical tipping point that requires smart investments and strong political will in order to achieve an AIDS-free generation within our lifetimes. We hope Congress goes further and increases funding for PEPFAR in this year’s budget.

Lastly, we are concerned that the President zeroed out funding for the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) – the multilateral arm of Feed the Future.  ONE requested $158 million for this program in FY15. In Rwanda alone, 6,750 farmers and their families are benefitting from GAFSP programs and we seek to build on this success.

One technical note, the President included a $56 billion “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative” in his budget.  This pot of money increases spending many programs at nearly every federal agency.  However, it is an aspirational request since it would be paid for by increasing revenue to the federal budget by closing tax loopholes and raising taxes – something Congress is unlikely to do.  As such, we did not include it in our analysis.

In these days of tight budgets, the President’s IAB request is largely positive.  However, this is the President’s request to Congress and has no force of law.  Congress must now begin the long and difficult appropriations process.  That’s where we will ask you to lend your voice.  We must make sure that your elected representatives hear from you that you support lifesaving programs that will help end extreme poverty and preventable diseases.  ONE will launch our FY15 budget campaign soon…so stay tuned!

Read ONE’s press release on President’s IAB request here.