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Monday, July 25, 2011

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2012 Budget and Appropriations

Susan B. Epstein
Specialist in Foreign Policy

Marian Leonardo Lawson
Analyst in Foreign Assistance

Tamara J. Resler
Analyst in Foreign Affairs

Some in the 112th Congress view the foreign affairs budget as a place to cut funds in order to reduce the budget deficit. Foreign affairs expenditures typically amount to about 1% of the annual budget. Others, including Members of Congress of both political parties, view a robust foreign affairs budget as essential for America’s national security and foreign policy interests.

The State Department, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies appropriations bills, in addition to funding U.S. diplomatic and foreign aid activities, have been the primary legislative vehicle through which Congress reviews the U.S. international affairs budget and influences executive branch foreign policy making in recent years. (Congress has not amended foreign policy issues through a complete authorization process for State Department diplomatic activities since 2003 and for foreign aid programs since 1985.) After a period of decline in the 1980s and 1990s, funding for State Department operations, international broadcasting, and foreign aid rose steadily from FY2002 to FY2010, largely because of ongoing assistance to Iraq, Afghanistan, new global health programs, and increasing assistance to Pakistan. It declined again in FY2011 when Congress passed a continuing resolution (P.L. 112-10) significantly reducing U.S. governmentwide expenditures, including foreign affairs.

On February 14, 2011, the Obama Administration submitted its FY2012 budget proposal before enactment of the final FY2011 appropriations and the current congressional emphasis on budget reductions. The FY2012 request sought $61.5 billion for the international affairs budget, including a core budget plus extraordinary Overseas Contingency Operation funds for frontline states in FY2012. This represents an increase of 21.8% over the enacted FY2011 funding level including an across-the-board rescission of 0.2% passed by the 112
th Congress on April 14, 2011. Compared with the FY2010 enacted appropriation, the FY2012 foreign affairs request represents an 7.7% increase.

This report focuses on the $59.65 billion requested for programs and activities funded through the State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill, which excludes some portions of the International Affairs request such as funding for certain commissions and foreign food aid requested as part of other budget functions. The Administration’s FY2012 budget request seeks significant increases for State Department’s administration of foreign affairs, security assistance, and various multilateral environmental accounts. Programs for which the Administration recommended significantly reduced funding, compared with enacted FY2011 levels, are funding for the East- West Center, Debt Restructuring, and Emergency Refugee and Migration assistance.

The House-passed FY2012 budget resolution (H.Con.Res. 34, agreed to on April 15, 2011) calls for significant cuts in the foreign affairs budget. It provides new budget authority for the International Affairs 150 Function set at $36.6 billion, as compared to the House and Senate committee-approved allocation of $54 billion for the 150 Function the previous year. The Senate may take up the budget resolution later in the year.

This report analyzes the FY2012 request, including State Department, international broadcasting, and foreign aid highlights, recent-year funding trends, and congressional action related to FY2012 State-Foreign Operations legislation. This report will be updated to reflect congressional action. For details on the FY2011 State-Foreign Operations Appropriations, see CRS Report R41228, State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2011 Budget and Appropriations.

Date of Report: July 7, 2011
Number of Pages: 34
Order Number: R41905
Price: $29.95

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