Today Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, announced that she is removing funding for Afghanistan beyond humanitarian aid from the FY2011 appropriations bill. The State and Foreign Operations bill is due to be marked up this Wednesday, June 30th.
Lowey cited two “troubling” reports on corruption within the Afghan government as the reason for the cut. In its last annual report, Transparency International found that Afghanistan had extremely high levels of corruption; only Somalia ranked lower. Lowey said:
I do not intend to appropriate one more dime for assistance to Afghanistan until I have confidence that U.S. taxpayer money is not being abused to line the pockets of corrupt Afghan government officials, drug lords, and terrorists. Furthermore, the government of Afghanistan must demonstrate that corruption is being aggressively investigated and prosecuted.
In FY2010 Congress appropriated $2.6 billion in combined economic and security aid to Afghanistan.
With Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad’s $4 billion cut to the international affairs request looming large over the appropriations process, Lowey’s removal of non-humanitarian funding to Afghanistan is the latest development in what looks to be a long road to the final FY2011 international affairs budget.