Negotiations continue with the White House in determining the fate of the International Affairs Budget. Because the White House’s proposed cuts—nearly six percent for 2017, 31 percent in 2018— are so extensive, an omnibus bill has been proposed in Congress.

The White House’s budget cuts could negatively impact African, Asian, Latin American and Caribbean countries. Cuts in global healthcare measures, food assistance programs and foreign developmental assistance programs, for instance, could potentially result in significant setbacks for developing countries.

In response, Congress has proposed an omnibus bill which, if passed into law, would help protect funds for foreign affairs. The bill also widely rejects many of the budget cuts previously suggested by the White House. The bill proposes that $300 million go toward Food for Peace in Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria and South Sudan. Furthermore, the bill provides that $296 million of the International Affairs Budget be set aside for Medicaid in Puerto Rico.

According to the House Appropriations Committee, the fiscal 2017 omnibus bill would contribute international humanitarian relief to countries around the world, including $990 million to prevent and mitigate famine around the world. It also targets funding to “U.S. foreign policy priorities and provides critical humanitarian aid to war-torn and impoverished areas around the globe.“

Countries in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, such as Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan, would also benefit by the omnibus bill’s passage, which reserves $16.5 billion for international programs through the Overseas Contingency Operations fund. Other targeted countries that would receive both economic and security benefits include Colombia, Jordan and Egypt, provided that the latter maintains its peace treaty with Israel.

A final decision is anticipated on this bill by the end of May. If passed into law, the Fiscal 2017 International Affairs Budget would survive the drastic budget cuts previously proposed by the White House. In addition to helping those in need, programs funded by the International Affairs Budget create jobs here at home by opening new markets to American businesses and protect our national security by fighting terrorism and preventing conflicts before they start.

Lael Pierce

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