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Senate Committee Approves State, Foreign Operations Spending Bill

On May 24, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved, 29-1, the FY2013 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies spending bill (S. 3241). On May 22, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies approved the legislation, 30-0. The House Appropriations Committee approved its version of the bill on May 17 (see The Source, 5/18/12).

The measure would provide a total of $52.1 billion in discretionary funding, $2.6 billion less than President Obama’s FY2013 budget request and $1.2 billion below FY2012, to fund the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and related international organizations for FY2013.

According to the committee report, the bill would provide a total of $1.65 billion for gender programs. Concern over violence against women in countries such as Egypt and the Democratic Republic of Congo led the committee to support “funding for women NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] and initiatives to protect the rights of women and girls,” and would allocate no less than $150 million to support a multi-year strategy to respond to gender-based violence throughout the world. Additionally, the committee recognizes the importance of combating human trafficking, and directs the secretary of State to post human trafficking hotline and website information in all U.S. embassy and consulate waiting rooms (p. 23).

The committee recognizes women’s empowerment as a top priority, as women “continue to be subjected to humiliating, physically debilitating, and discriminatory practices based on cultural or religious practices that are centuries old.” The committee urges the ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues and USAID’s senior coordinator for gender equality and women’s empowerment to issue a report to the committee on the efforts to promote gender equality and women’s political and economic empowerment. The committee understands that “the world’s most pressing economic and political problems cannot be solved without the equal participation of women.” Thus, the Department of State Office of Global Women’s Issues and USAID Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment are encouraged to “mainstream a focus throughout United States diplomatic and development efforts on raising the status, increasing participation, and protecting the rights of women and girls worldwide.” Of the funds allocated for gender programs in the legislation, no less than $50 million would be set aside for programs to support women’s political leadership (p. 47).

In order to prevent child marriage, the secretary of State would be urged to “support diplomatic efforts and assistance programs” in countries where it is highly prevalent (p. 47).

The legislation would provide $8.479 billion for global health programs, $311 million more than FY2012 and $625 million above the president’s request. In order to reduce maternal and child mortality, the committee supports USAID’s Child Survival Call to Action program, which aims to “collaborate with other donors and partners to end preventable child deaths, including over 7 million children under the age of five annually.” The committee also supports USAID’s efforts to train local women as midwifes to prevent pregnancy and birth complications, which lead to maternal and neonatal deaths. Vaccination and screening programs for diseases such as tetanus, malaria, and polio would receive funding to prevent diseases with high rates of mortality for women and children in developing countries (p. 40).

In support of the goal of eliminating new pediatric HIV infections by 2015, the committee encourages the expansion of mother-to-child transmission prevention programs and “supports efforts to reach women in rural settings, to improve the ability of programs to provide more effective drug regimens, and to encourage stronger linkages between mother-to-child and care and treatment programs” (p. 42).

The committee recognizes the long-term effects of malnutrition, which include poor vision, learning disabilities, and stunted brain growth. In particular, the committee highlights the importance of the “nutritional needs of pregnant women and children, particularly from birth to age two,” and recommends $122 million for nutrition programs in the legislation (p. 41).

While the House version of the FY2013 spending bill would cap family planning and reproductive health funding at FY2008 levels ($461 million), the Senate Appropriations Committee recommends a total of $700 million for these programs, $176.05 million above FY2012 and $170 million more than the president’s request. Additionally, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) would receive $44.5 million in the Senate version of the legislation, while the House version would not include any funding for the organization.

During consideration of the bill, the committee approved, 18-12, an amendment by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to permanently remove the ban on U.S. assistance to nongovernmental organizations that promote or perform abortions, known as the Mexico City Policy. The House version of the legislation would reinstate the Mexico City Policy.

The committee also approved, by voice vote, an amendment by Sens. Dan Coats (R-IN) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to move $79 million in funding from international organizations to global health programs.

The chart below compares funding levels for programs in the legislation to FY2012 and the president’s request.

Program/Agency

FY2012

President’s Request

House Bill 

Senate Bill 

Department of State

Diplomatic and Consular Affairs $10.94 billion $11.380 billion* $8.984 billion $8.863 billion
International Peacekeeping $1.828 billion

 

$2.099 billion

 

$1.828 billion $2.007 billion
Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons $18.7 million $18.7 million $18.7 million $7.5 million
U.S. Agency for International Development $1.347 billion

 

$1.347 billion

 

$1.271 billion $1.391 billion

Bilateral Economic Assistance

Migration and Refugee Assistance $1.868 billion $1.625 billion $1.454 billion $2.3 billion
Global Heath and Child Survival (State and USAID) $8.168 billion

 

$7.854 billion

 

$8.018 billion $8.479 billion
President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) $5.543 billion

 

$5.35 billion

 

$5.543 billion $5.55 billion
Maternal and Child Health $605.55 million $578 million

 

$605.55 million $678.968 million
Vulnerable Children $17.5 million $13 million $17.5 million $23 million
Family Planning/Reproductive Health $523.95 million

 

$530 million $461 million $700 million
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria $1.05 billion

 

$1.65 billion

 

$1.3 billion $1.65 billion
HIV/AIDS – USAID $350 million $330 million $350 million $350 million
Microbicides $45 million $45 million $45 million $45 million

International Organizations and Programs

U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) $131.755 million $125 million $131.755 million $132 million
U.N. Women (formerly UNIFEM) $7.5 million $7.9 million Not yet available $8 million
U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) $35 million $39 million $0 $44.5 million

*Includes funding for overseas contingency operations.

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