FY2016 State & Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill Gains Full Committee Approval

Legislation Advances U.S. Interests Abroad, Supports International Religious Freedom, Humanitarian Aid & Global Health Programs, Prohibits Alternative E-Mail Servers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Committee on Appropriations today approved the FY2016 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill, a $49.0 billion bill to strengthen federal programs and operations that support national security and American values abroad.
The legislation, approved 27-3, is now available for consideration by the full Senate.  The bill strengthens U.S. national security interests by supporting democracy, governance, and development abroad.  It also provides critical funding for the protection of U.S. Foreign Service Officers and other personnel serving overseas.
The bill prioritizes humanitarian assistance for internally displaced persons and refugees, particularly those affected by the protracted crisis in Syria.  The measure promotes and protects international religious freedom, while also supporting global health programs to help address the needs of the world’s poorest populations.  In addition, it provides funding to advance democracy abroad and other programs to promote stability and security in areas of unrest, including the Middle East, North Africa, and Ukraine.
“Crises around the world affect our nation in many ways, and this bill is an important source of support to help the United States respond to national security, humanitarian and economic challenges,” said Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.).  “I commend Senators Graham for his stewardship of this bill, and recommend the Senate consider it as soon as possible.”
“The bill provides key funding to our allies in the Middle East, especially Israel and Jordan.  It also supports critical diplomacy and development activities abroad and reflects America’s standing as the sole, global superpower.  With leadership comes responsibility.  This bill takes a responsible approach to bolstering our security interests, promoting our values, and protecting our investments overseas, within the current budget constraints,” said U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee.
“The bill also includes support for a new initiative to end modern slavery, and a new provision that ensures international religious freedom is an important component of U.S. foreign policy.  The bill also makes an important change in that we prohibit funding for the use or establishment of email servers outside the .gov domain or not fitted for automatic Federal records management,” Graham added.
The bill provides $49.03 billion in discretionary and emergency funding for the U.S. Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs for FY2016. This level of funding is $2.8 billion below the FY2015 enacted level (including FY2015 Ebola emergency funding) and $4.9 billion below the President’s budget request.
Of this amount, the legislation provides:  $39.01 billion is for enduring costs, $7.9 billion below the President’s request, and $997 million below the FY2015 enacted level; and $9.26 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), $2.2 billion above the budget request and equal to the FY2015 enacted level.  The total also includes $759 million in emergency funding to address costs related to humanitarian and refugee crises. 
Highlights of the Senate FY2016 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill:
Promotes and Protects International Religious Freedom – The bill provides $20 million for programs to promote international religious freedom.  In addition, the bill provides $5 million for the Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom and $1 million for the Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom in the Near East and Central Asia.
Prohibits the Use of Funds to Support External Email Servers at the Department of State and USAID – The bill prohibits funding for the use or establishment of email servers outside the .gov domain, or which are not fitted for automatic federal records management.  The bill also requires the Department of State and USAID to use funds for proper records management, and to submit a report, to be reviewed by the Comptroller General, on agency efforts to comply with Federal records management statutes, regulations, and policies, including with respect to email accounts.
Countering Violent Extremism – The bill provides $141.2 million for programs to counter violent extremism (CVE).  The bill also establishes a new Countering Violent Extremism Assistance Coordinator to provide overall oversight of CVE programs, design a new CVE strategy, and ensure sufficient monitoring and oversight of CVE activities.
Strengthening Embassy Security – The bill fully funds embassy security to ensure the safety of American diplomats, development professionals and facilities abroad.
The bill provides critical economic and security assistance to key allies, including:
  • Israel – The bill fully funds the $3.1 billion commitment to the United States-Israel Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), and requires that the Secretary of State determine that the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is taking credible steps to remove Israel as a permanent agenda item, prior to making funds available for the UNHRC.
  • Jordan – The bill includes a total of $1.175 billion for Jordan from all accounts, $175 million above the MOU level, in addition to providing humanitarian assistance for Syrian refugees in Jordan.
  • Ukraine – The bill includes a total of $513.5 million from all accounts for assistance for Ukraine, and provides the President’s request of $275 million for loan guarantees.
  • Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia – The bill reinstates the “Assistance for Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia” account to provide a framework for a U.S. response to Russian aggression, and provides $853.9 million for countries in the region.
Global Health Program – The bill includes a total of $8.47 billion for Global Health Programs, $14.1 million above the FY2015 enacted level and $287 million above the President’s request.
HIV/AIDS – The bill provides approximately $6 billion for global HIV/AIDS assistance, including $5.67 billion for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), including $1.35 billion for the Global Fund, and $330 million for USAID HIV/AIDS programs.
Polio – The bill includes a total of not less than $59 million for polio eradication efforts, including not less than $7.5 million for programs for Pakistan and Afghanistan.  This level is equal to the FY2015 enacted level and $15.5 million above the President’s request.
Maternal and Child Health – The bill maintains FY2015 funding levels for maternal and child health programs, including for GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance. 
Malaria – The bill provides $669.5 million to combat malaria, which is equal to the FY2015 enacted level.
Tuberculosis – $236 million is provided for tuberculosis programs, which is equal to the FY2015 enacted level and $45 million above the President’s request.
Pandemic Influenza – The bill includes $72.5 million for pandemic influenza, which is equal to the FY2015 enacted level and $22.5 million above the President’s request.
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) – $100 million is included to combat NTDs, which is equal to the FY2015 enacted level and $13.5 million above the President’s request.
The bill provides a total of $7.9 billion, $6 billion in base funding and $1.9 billion in OCO funding, for international security assistance.  This funding will bolster international stability and protect the homeland by providing critical assistance for counterterrorism and nonproliferation programs, peacekeeping operations, foreign military training and education programs, as well as financing for critical military equipment for our partners around the world.
The bill contains $16.7 billion ($14 billion in base funding and $2.7 billion in OCO funding) for the Department of State and related agencies. This funding provides the full amount requested for embassy security, including funds for security upgrades and security personnel at diplomatic facilities abroad.  Adequate funding is also provided to implement the recommendations of the Benghazi Accountability Review Board report.  This level is $1 billion above the FY2015 level.
USAID Operations – The bill contains $1.28 billion for USAID operating expenses, an increase of $66.6 million from the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $142.1 million below the President’s request.
Democracy Programs – The bill provides $2.3 billion for Democracy Programs generally, and an additional $170 million for the National Endowment for Democracy and $140.5 million for the “Democracy Fund” account.
Palestinian Authority – The bill retains restrictions on assistance for the West Bank and Gaza from current law, as well as restrictions on assistance for the Palestinian Authority.  The bill tightens the certification requirements for the Palestine Liberation Organization to maintain an office in the United States in an effort to thwart Palestinian efforts to subject Israeli nationals to investigation by the International Criminal Court.
Multilateral Assistance – The bill provides $1.9 billion for multilateral assistance, which includes funding to meet U.S. commitments to international financial institutions.  This funding level is $839.6 million below the FY2015 enacted level and is $1.5 billion below the President’s request.
The bill does not fund the United Nations (U.N.) Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
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 significant funding for the Inspectors General (IG), including the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, and directs implementation of key IG and Government Accountability Office recommendations;
  • Continues limitations on conference expenses;
  • Establishes significant pre-obligation conditions, including a multi-year spend plan, on implementing the United States Strategy for Engagement in Central America;
  • 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; and
  • Enhances the effectiveness of humanitarian aid through the collection of data to improve the understanding of the needs and perceptions of beneficiaries.