Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Congress Increases International Budget 11%

The House and Senate Appropriations Committee approved $38.2 billion for the FY09 International Affairs Budget (State, Foreign Ops; Agriculture; and Labor, Health & Education) - an 11% increase over the FY08 funding. With news of this recent enhancement, both committees are moving forward with all 12 FY09 appropriation bills. The House and Senate Appropriations Committee have set an aggressive schedule to complete all 12 Appropriation bills before Congress adjourns for the August recess. The House Appropriations Committee is set to review the State, Foreign Operations Appropriation bill, the largest component of the International Affairs Budget, during the USGLC’S Capitol Hill Day on July 16th – allowing conference participants a welcomed opportunity to discuss the importance of these programs with Members of Congress. Although not schedule, the Senate is expected to take up the State, Foreign Ops bill around the same time. It is expected that most of the bills will be passed out of committee, however we expect few, if any, spending bills to make it to the Presidents desk. The Democratic leadership is using the bills to contrast their domestic agenda with the current Administration, as Members of Congress return home to campaign in the November elections. In addition, with the veto threat of President Bush, Appropriations leaders are likely to withhold final passage until after the new Administration takes office in January 2009. Until then we can expect Congress to pass a Continuing Resolution to keep the Federal Government operating at FY08 funding levels through the beginning of next year. In the meantime, the USGLC will continue to monitor the bills that make up the International Affairs Budget as they come up for votes.