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Friday, June 25, 2010

Foreign Assistance Act of 1961: Authorizations and Corresponding Appropriations

Dianne E. Rennack
Specialist in Foreign Policy Legislation

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (P.L. 87-195; 22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq.) serves as the cornerstone for the United States' foreign assistance policies and programs. Written, passed, and signed into law at what some consider the height of the Cold War, the Act is seen by some today as anachronistic. Ironically, when President Kennedy urged the 87th Congress to enact foreign aid legislation that would exemplify and advance the national interests and security strategies of the United States post-World War II, he described the existing foreign aid mechanisms as bureaucratic, fragmented, awkward, and slow. Some have used the same language today, nearly 50 years later, to characterize the legislation he promoted.

The House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in the 111th Congress have set out to assess the current body of law that comprises foreign aid policy, starting with the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Their goal is to rebuild the United States' capacity to deliver effective foreign aid, and make aid more transparent and responsive to today's quick-changing international challenges. To this end, the Senate has before it the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009 (S. 1524; S.Rept. 111-122), which would establish a Council on Research and Evaluation of Foreign Assistance

to objectively evaluate the impact of U.S. foreign assistance programs and their contribution to policies, strategies, projects, program goals, and priorities undertaken by the United States in support of foreign policy objectives. CORE will also cultivate an integrated research and development program to incorporate best practices from evaluation studies and analyses and foster and promote innovative programs to improve the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance.

In the House, the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 2139; referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs) would require the President to

develop and implement, on an interagency basis, a comprehensive national strategy to further the United States foreign policy objective of reducing poverty and contributing to broad-based economic growth in developing countries, including responding to humanitarian crises.

The bill would establish a United States Foreign Assistance Evaluation Advisory Council in the executive branch to assist in accomplishing these goals.

Also in the House, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for 2010 and 2011 (H.R. 2410; passed the House June 10, 2009) calls on the President to conduct an assessment of diplomacy and development and establish a strategy to achieve improvements in the diplomacy and aid agencies over the next 10 years, first by identifying "key objectives and missions for United States foreign policy and foreign assistance policies and programs, including a clear statement on United States objectives for development assistance."

This report presents the authorities of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, and correlates those authorities with the operative appropriations measure (division F of P.L. 111-117; 123 Stat. 3312) that funds those authorities. For many years, foreign aid appropriations measures have waived the requirement that funds must be authorized before they are appropriated and expended. Understanding the relation between the authorities in the cornerstone Act and appropriations is key to foreign aid reform. 

Date of Report: June 16, 2010
Number of Pages: 34
Order Number: R40089
Price: $29.95

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Monday, June 7, 2010

FY2010 Supplemental for Wars, Disaster Assistance, Haiti Relief, and Court Cases

Amy Belasco, Coordinator
Specialist in U.S. Defense Policy and Budget

Daniel H. Else
Specialist in National Defense

Bruce R. Lindsay
Analyst in American National Government

Rhoda Margesson
Specialist in International Humanitarian Policy

Kennon H. Nakamura
Analyst in Foreign Affairs

Maureen Taft-Morales
Specialist in Latin American Affairs

Curt Tarnoff
Specialist in Foreign Affairs

The Administration has requested $63 billion in FY2010 supplemental appropriations:

• $33 billion for the Department of Defense (DOD) primarily for deploying 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan;

• $4.5 billion in war-related foreign aid to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan;

• $5.1 billion to replenish the U.S. Disaster Relief Fund administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA);

• $2.8 billion for Haiti reconstruction and foreign aid in the wake of the earthquake;

• $13.4 billion to compensate veterans exposed to Agent Orange;

• $3.4 billion to settle land trust claims of American Indians in the long-standing Cobell case; and

• $1.2 billion to settle the discrimination claims of 70,000 black farmers in the Pigford II case.

These requests were included as part of the Administration's FY2011 budget request, and in two budget amendments sent to Congress on February 12, and March 24, 2010. It is currently not clear whether Congress will consider all of this spending in one bill. Press reports suggest that the Senate Appropriations Committee may mark up an FY2010 supplemental this week.

The Defense Department, the State Department, FEMA and the court plaintiffs have all cited deadlines in May and June for when funding is needed but there appears to be some flexibility in these dates. Because DOD has already received 80% of its war funding, the supplemental monies may not be needed until the end of July. FEMA has suggested that additional disaster funding is needed by June. Because its disaster funding was tapped to meet Haiti's needs, the State Department argues that it needs its funding by June. And while the plaintiffs in the Cobell and Pigford cases could reject the settlements if funding is not provided by this spring's deadlines, the Administration's support may dissuade them.

Congress will consider this supplemental appropriations request within the constraints set forth in the FY2010 congressional budget resolution (S.Con.Res. 13), and other budget rules. Some Members may believe that the request should be exempt from such constraints by designating the additional spending as an emergency, as provided under the rules. Others, in light of the current fiscal environment, may believe that all or portions of the additional spending should be offset, so as not to increase the deficit.

Congress could change the Administration's request. For DOD's request, issues could include whether to set a timeline to evaluate the Afghan war troop surge; whether plans and funding to accelerate the training of Afghan security forces are achievable; and whether DOD's basing request signifies a permanent presence. Concerns about the State Department's foreign aid request for Afghanistan and Iraq could include whether the funding will be effective and free of corruption. Questions about FEMA's reliance on supplementals for its disaster funding could be raised. Finally, questions about the focus of Haiti foreign assistance could arise.

Date of Report: May 12, 2010
Number of Pages: 55
Order Number: R41232
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
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