Congressional news

The Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday approved its spending allocations for the twelve FY16 appropriations bills, allocating $49.0 billion for State-Foreign Operations, which funds the Department of State and State Department exchanges. This spending allocation maintains total funding nearly at the current funding level for international affairs, the United States Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) explains.

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The House and Senate passed a budget resolution conference agreement last week that recommends $47.1 billion for international affairs in FY16. This is the first time in several years that both chambers of Congress agreed to a budget resolution guiding the appropriations bills for the upcoming fiscal year.

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For the third time in recent years, the Alliance partnered with Representative Hank Johnson’s office to send a sign-on letter to the leadership of the House Appropriations Committee. The letter this year is bipartisan and signed by 105 members of Congress, requesting the highest funding level possible for State Department exchanges in FY 2016. This represents a strong commitment to international exchange programs and continues to build on the Alliance’s advocacy efforts.

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Funding cuts to the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX), a bilateral exchange program supported jointly by the U.S. and Germany, are facing bipartisan criticism from members of Congress, as well as from the German government. In addition to opposition from CBYX program alumni, the cuts have “spawned an unusual coalition in Washington that is working hard to reverse the partial defunding of the program,” Deutsche Welle reports.

Secretary of State John Kerry, throughout the past two days, testified before several congressional committees with regard to the President’s FY16 State Department budget request.

Several veteran members of Congress are urging their colleagues to travel abroad more, according to Roll Call. Frequent Congressional travelers make the case that international travel is vital for Members to do their jobs effectively, and that there is great value in legislators better understanding the international context in which they govern. As Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) explains:

President Obama last night signed into law the FY15 “cromnibus” funding bill (H.R. 83), passed by Congress last week, according to a White House press release.

The Senate on Saturday night cleared the $1.1 trillion FY15 “cromnibus” spending bill that would keep the federal government funded through September 2015. According to CQ.com, the measure passed the Senate 56-40 and “President Obama has indicated he will sign the bill.”

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Hours before the expiration of the FY15 Continuing Resolution (CR), and with a narrow vote of 219 to 206, the House of Representatives last night passed the $1.1 trillion FY15 omnibus spending bill that would keep the federal government funded through September 2015.

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Educational and cultural exchange programs are funded at $589.9 million in the FY15 omnibus appropriations bill released last night and expected to be voted on by both Chambers of Congress this week. This funding amount is $12 million more than the President’s FY15 request of $577.9 million and $21.2 million more than the FY14 enacted level of $568.6 million. The FY15 omnibus also contains increases over the FY14 level for every specified program, including:

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