Committee Approves FY2018 State & Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill
Legislation Ends Terror Payments, Strengthens U.S. Diplomacy, Provides Critical Assistance to Allies, Promotes Democracy Abroad, Supports Humanitarian Aid & Global Health Programs
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Committee on Appropriations today approved the FY2018 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill with $51.35 billion for diplomatic and humanitarian programs that strengthen U.S. national security and support American values abroad.
The bill provides $51.2 billion in discretionary funding for the U.S. Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs. Of this amount, $30.4 billion is for enduring costs and $20.8 billion is for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). The bill passed unanimously.
“The serious challenges to U.S. national security interests today heighten our need to fund the diplomatic and humanitarian programs that strengthen our posture around the world. This bill provides the funding for the Department of State and related agencies to carry out that work,” said Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.). “I am grateful to Senator Graham and Vice Chairman Leahy for their leadership in crafting this legislation.”
Importantly, the committee-passed legislation includes the Taylor Force Act offered U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee. This provision demands the Palestinian Authority end the horrific practice of rewarding terrorism—more commonly known as “pay to slay”—by restricting U.S. economic aid to the West Bank and Gaza until this unacceptable practice ends. Graham’s provision was approved by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations earlier this year.
“Taylor Force was an American hero who was brutally murdered at the hands of terrorists. Yet instead of condemning this horrific attack—and so many others like it—the Palestinian Authority rewards terrorists. Today we are sending a strong message to the Palestinian Authority that this practice is wholly unacceptable and inconsistent with peace. This is a good day for the family of Taylor Force, and so many others who have lost loved ones to this brutal practice,” Graham said.
“Further, America must remain the preeminent power in the world. Today, we face complex challenges from North Korea, Russia, China, and ISIL and other extremists. Now is not the time for retreat; now is the time to double down on diplomacy and development. The bill provides vital security, economic, development, health, and humanitarian assistance that makes all Americans safer at home,” Graham continued.
“The bill imposes restrictions on governments supporting North Korea’s nuclear, missile, and cyber capabilities; establishes a new funding level for Jordan’s Memorandum of Understanding that takes into consideration the challenges of that rough neighborhood; and recommends resources to hold and repopulate areas liberated from ISIL,” Graham said. “Through the bill and report, the Subcommittee has articulated its vision of an active American role in the world today. ‘Soft power,’ as it’s commonly called, is an essential ingredient to national security. This bill recognizes and builds upon the significance of ‘soft power.’”
In addition to sufficiently funding U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the bill provides critical assistance to key allies, including Israel, Jordan, and Tunisia; consolidates gains in areas liberated from extremists; supports democracy, governance, and development abroad; and funds humanitarian assistance. Essential funding is also provided for the protection of U.S. Foreign Service Officers and other personnel serving overseas.
Pushes Palestinian Authority to End Practice of “Pay to Slay” – Includes the Graham-sponsored provision, the Taylor Force Act, which would restrict U.S. economic aid to the West Bank and Gaza until the Palestinian Authority stops paying terrorists guilty of violence against Israelis and Americans. The provision is named after a Vanderbilt University graduate student who was killed in a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv last year.
Supports Key Allies, Counters Extremism, and Promotes Democracy and Human Rights
• $3.1 billion for military aid for Israel, $7.5 million for refugees resettling in Israel; and continues restrictions on the United Nations Human Rights Council.
• $1.5 billion for economic and military assistance for Jordan.
• $120 million for the Countering Russian Influence Fund.
• $31 million for the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai.
• $165.4 million for assistance for Tunisia, and requires an assessment of the feasibility of establishing a multi-year Memorandum of Understanding with Tunisia.
• $500 million for the Relief and Recovery Fund to hold, repopulate, and establish governance in areas liberated from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and other extremist groups.
• $19 million for a program to assist women and girls at risk from extremism in predominantly Muslim and other countries.
• $2.3 billion for democracy programs, and an additional $170 million for the National Endowment for Democracy.
• $15 million to promote democracy and rule of law in Venezuela.
• $8 million for programs to promote human rights in North Korea.
Promotes and Protects International Religious Freedom – $25 million for programs to promote international religious freedom, and $5 million for atrocities prevention programs. In addition, the bill provides $6 million for the Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom, and $2 million for the Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom in the Near East and Central Asia.
Strengthens Embassy Security – $5.8 billion to ensure the safety of American diplomats, development professionals and facilities abroad.
Provides Assistance for Refugees – $3.11 billion for Migration and Refugee Assistance, maintaining the long-held United States commitment to protecting and addressing the needs of refugees impacted by conflict and other natural and manmade disasters.
International Disaster Assistance – $3.13 billion for International Disaster Assistance, which is $311.5 million above the FY2017 level, excluding emergency assistance for famine relief. Funds provided in excess of the FY2017 level are made available for famine prevention, relief, and mitigation.
Does Not Include Funds for the Green Climate Fund – The bill does not include funds for grants, assistance, or contributions to the Green Climate Fund, as none were requested by the President.
Protects Life – The bill continues provisions relating to abortion, including the Tiahrt, Helms, and Kemp-Kasten Amendments.
STRENGTHENING GLOBAL HEALTH
Global Health Program – $8.71 billion for Global Health Programs, including a reprogramming of $250 million from unobligated Ebola funds.
HIV/AIDS – Maintains strong support for HIV/AIDS programs, providing $6.0 billion for global HIV/AIDS assistance, including: $5.67 billion for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), of which $1.35 billion is for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and $330 million is for HIV/AIDS programs administered by USAID.
Polio – Not less than $59 million for polio eradication efforts, including not less than $7.5 million for programs for Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Maternal and Child Health – $829.5 million for maternal and child health programs, which is equal to the President’s request, and includes $290 million for the GAVI Alliance.
Malaria – $755 million to combat malaria, including a reprogramming of $100 million from unobligated Ebola balances.
Tuberculosis – $261 million for tuberculosis eradication efforts, including a reprogramming of $20 million from unobligated Ebola balances.
Pandemic Influenza and Other Emerging Threats – $72.5 million for pandemic influenza, which is equal to the FY2017 enacted level. The Committee again provides authority for the Secretary of State to tap into other accounts to address global health crises.
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) – $100 million to combat NTDs.
Nutrition – $125 million for nutrition programs.
INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE
The bill provides a total of $8.29 billion – all of which is OCO funding – for international security assistance. This funding will shore up security in the United States and bolster international stability by providing critical assistance for counterterrorism and nonproliferation programs, foreign military training and education programs, peacekeeping operations, as well as financing for critical military equipment for U.S. partners around the world.
The bill includes a new provision to prohibit assistance to the central government of a country that contributes to the nuclear, ballistic missile, or malicious cyber-intrusion capabilities of the Government of North Korea, and requires the Secretary of State to review sanctioned entities under other provisions of law to determine whether assistance in the bill should also be withheld.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE OPERATIONS AND OTHER FUNDING
Administration of Foreign Affairs – $11.51 billion for the administration of foreign affairs, including funding to maintain staffing and operations levels at the Department of State consistent with prior fiscal years. Funding is also provided to implement the recommendations of the Benghazi Accountability Review Board report.
Reorganization or Redesign – Maintains funding for Department of State and USAID personnel levels consistent with prior fiscal years; prohibits funds from this and prior acts from being used to close, move, or otherwise incorporate USAID into the Department of State; requires submission of notifications and reports on any proposed reorganization or redesign plans; and requires the Government Accountability Office and Department of State and USAID Inspectors General (IG) to review plans.
USAID Operations – $1.35 billion for USAID operating expenses, including to maintain staffing and operational levels consistent with prior fiscal years.
Palestinian Authority – The bill maintains restrictions on assistance for the West Bank and Gaza in current law, as well as restrictions on assistance for the Palestinian Authority.
Multilateral Assistance – $1.83 billion for multilateral assistance, which includes funding to meet U.S. commitments to international financial institutions.
The bill does not fund the United Nations (U.N.) Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization or the U.N. Population Fund, and requires a cost-benefit analysis of each contribution made to an international organization that receives $5.0 million or less annually from the United States.
The bill promotes U.N. peacekeeping reforms and restricts assistance for units involved in sexual exploitation and abuse.
REFORMS, SAVINGS, AND REDUCING GOVERNMENT WASTE
The bill and accompanying report include numerous oversight provisions to ensure the proper use of taxpayer funds and accountability of the administration. For instance, the bill provides robust funding for the Department of State and USAID IGs, including the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, and directs implementation of key IG and GAO recommendations. The bill maintains a provision prohibiting the use of funds in the bill to deny an Inspector General funded under the bill timely access to any records, documents, or other materials, or to impede the access of such IG to such records, documents, or materials. In addition, the bill:
• Requires the Secretary of State and USAID Administrator to submit a National Diplomacy and Development Strategy to enhance diplomacy and development in the national security framework.
• Continues stringent requirements for records management by the Department of State and USAID.
• Requires any new country strategies developed by USAID and the Department of State to include a plan to transition assistance for the country to other donors or budget support from the recipient country.
• Enhances the effectiveness of humanitarian aid through the collection of data to improve the understanding of the needs and perceptions of beneficiaries.
• Continues limitations on conference expenses.
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