What is the 151 Account?
Within the U.S. Federal budget there are a series of functions, or accounts. The International Affairs Budget is also referred to as Function 150, or the “150 account.” Foreign aid, which falls under International Affairs, is split between two sub-functions. These include international development and humanitarian assistance, and international security assistance — accounts 151 and 152, respectively.
Altogether, International Affairs is approximately 1 percent of the total U.S. Federal budget. This means that the 151 account, dealing with all matters of international development and humanitarian assistance, is even less than 1 percent.
All of the aid that can support efforts to reduce poverty and injustice is less than 1 percent, as these efforts fall under account 151. The account also assists with efforts including supporting the generation of demand for U.S. goods to help build and maintain stable trade relationships, advancing human rights and democracy and demonstrating the goodwill of the American people.
In fact, according to Oxfam’s Foreign Aid Guide, all of the humanitarian and development aid done by the United States is only 0.7 percent of the total national budget. Imagine what could be done globally by the United States if we were expanding the budget.
By increasing the International Affairs Budget, the United States would be able to improve philanthropic efforts, create a more positive image for itself as a foreign power for war-riddled nations, advance human rights and able to promote peace in war-torn countries – the list is endless.
While some would argue that increasing the 151 account would encourage terrorism in other countries by giving them supplies without seeing an immediate reward, this has been disproven with many examples of peace. Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden all demonstrate the effects of positive spending within foreign aid. Perhaps it’s the United States’ turn to give it a try.
– Alysha Biemolt
Sources: Center for Global Development, OXFAM America