Congress approved a spending plan for the remainder of 2011 on April 14, 2011, some six months after the start of the fiscal year. Before Congress reached this agreement on final funding levels, it passed seven short-term continuing resolutions. The bill, HR 1473, provides funding for programs across government, with virtually all budget functions being reduced. Theagreement cuts $38.5 billion from 2010 levels and is $78.5 billion less than the 2011 request.
Eleven percent of the total cut is in the international affairs budget, or function 150, which is now funded at $48.3 billion, $8.4 billion less than the request. This is an 11 percent decrease from 2010 levels and 15 percent from the 2011 request. The decrease is less than the $11.7 billion cut proposed in HR 1, an earlier plan passed by the House, but more than the $6.5 billion cut envisioned in the Senate version.
This USAID Monitor Analysis focuses on the foreign assistance accounts, or Foreign Operations, portion of the function 150 budget. While the cuts are not as deep as many expected or as drastic as those initially proposed by the House Appropriations Committee, they are still significant and will prove challenging for the State Department and USAID. The budget agreement also signals future debates on United States’ global leadership in general, and the role of foreign assistance, in relation to other budgetary priorities.