Back to the start with FY2014 budget battle

With little break after last year’s spending challenges, ONE is once again gearing up for another major battle for the world’s most vulnerable people.  That’s right: it is time to begin work on the FY ’14 appropriations bill.

This week, the House Appropriations Committee announced how much they plan to make available or “allocate” in the FY 2014 spending bills. On Capitol Hill, these are better known as 302(b) allocations. The allocation the Committee sets for the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs (SFOPS), will have an impact on the very programs we are fighting to preserve and protect. From what we have seen, we can confirm that the budget tax will be heavy again this year.  The House is calling for deep cuts to most non-Defense discretionary programs, including the International Affairs Budget. Although such cuts were not unexpected, their impact on the poor is no less severe.  Since the House is using a total discretionary spending level of $967 billion, or $91 billion below what is permitted under the Budget Control Act for FY14, most allocations will also fall well below the Administration’s request.

For SFOPS, the spending bill that funds our core programs like PEPFAR, the Global Fund, GAVI and Feed the Future as well as all other international affairs programs, the 302(b) allocation calls for a spending level of $40.6 billion or 19% ($9.5 billion) below current FY13 levels (post-sequestration). To put this in perspective, the other national security related accounts, the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security will see increases of 5 percent and 3.3 percent respectively. So not only will these cuts affect the poorest around the globe, it will hamstring a critical component of our national security strategy.

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ONE opposes the SFOPS allocation because it represents deeper and more disproportionate cuts to accounts that fund the life-saving programs we fight to keep funded. While this is not good news for us, we still have the chance to fight and win in the Senate.

The Senate is expected to adopt their allocations in the coming weeks.  Unlike the House, the Senate 302(b) allocations for State and Foreign Operations should be considerably better because the Senate is using a total discretionary spending cap of $1.058 trillion, which is far higher than the House’s $967 billion level.

As usual, House and Senate appropriators would like to move their appropriations bills through each chamber before the start of the new fiscal year on October 1st. However, for the past several years, it has often been the case that not every appropriations bill makes it to the floor. Although neither chamber passed the State and Foreign Operations bill last year, we still need to make our voices heard to ensure our programs continue to save lives.  Given the low allocation in the House, our fight will be in the Senate.  As advocates, we need to urge our lawmakers on both sides of the Hill to support the Senate allocations, so that the United States can continue a long, bipartisan legacy of life-saving leadership.

Click here to add your name and send an auto-generated letter to your congressman or senator to let them know that we won’t let lifesaving programs be jeopardized in the budget battle.