Senate Appropriations Bill Rejects Trump’s Efforts to Downsize State Department and USAID

Publication Type: 
Other Writing
Publication Date: 
September 11, 2017

Last week, the Senate Committee on Appropriations, chaired by Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), approved a State & Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2018. Most importantly, by a vote of 31-0, the bill adds back nearly $11 billion to the Trump administration’s whittled down budget submission. The accompanying report from the Senate State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, chaired by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), blasted the Trump administration for its foreign policy “doctrine of retreat.” The subcommittee’s report states:

The lessons learned since September 11, 2001, include the reality that defense alone does not provide for American strength and resolve abroad. Battlefield technology and firepower cannot replace diplomacy and development. The administration’s apparent doctrine of retreat, which also includes distancing the United States from collective and multilateral dispute resolution frameworks, serves only to weaken America’s standing in the world.

The report also criticized the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to diplomatic and development posts and security, international HIV/AIDS programs, food aid, migration/refugee assistance, and other well-established initiatives.  While it is unclear what kind of funding bill Congress will eventually pass for fiscal year 2018, it is significant that this draft appropriations bill received a unanimous bipartisan vote in the full committee.

There are dozens of line items that will be of relevance to Just Security readers, but some funding proposals of note (in no particular order): 

  • In terms of major new initiatives, funds would be provided for the first time for atrocities prevention programs (not less than $5 million) and in particular to implement recommendations of the Atrocities Prevention Board. The Under-Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights would be charged with providing strategic policy direction for, and policy oversight of, these funds. This is a major development given that the atrocities prevention mandate has heretofore been an unfunded one. (See our prior coverage here).
  • The bill would also codify immigration restrictions (see Presidential Proclamation 8697) on human rights abusers and individuals associated with corruption. The legislation lists some exceptions, including in relation to the U.N. Headquarters Agreement, which has been an issue around meetings at the General Assembly, particularly when heads of state who have been indicted for genocide by the ICC want a visa, such as President Al Bashir of Sudan

Officials of foreign governments and their immediate family members about whom the Secretary of State has credible information have been involved in significant corruption, including corruption related to the extraction of natural resources, or a gross violation of human rights shall be ineligible for entry into the United States.  … Individuals shall not be ineligible if entry into the United States would further important United States law enforcement objectives or is necessary to permit the United States to fulfill its obligations under the United Nations Headquarters Agreement. …

Read the full post at Just Security