Congressional news

The Senate Committee on Appropriations approved the FY16 State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS) spending bill yesterday, providing $49.0 billion in overall funding and allocating $590.9 million for Department of State educational and cultural exchange programs.

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An amendment adopted by the House of Representatives yesterday allows the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to provide grants to Hispanic-serving higher education institutions to offer advanced foreign language programs that would be of “immediate” interest to the intelligence community, as well as for study abroad and cultural immersion programs.

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The House State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS) Appropriations subcommittee today released their FY16 spending bill along with the accompanying report, in advance of the full committee mark-up tomorrow.

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The House State-Foreign Operations (SFOPS) Appropriations Subcommittee today approved by voice vote its FY16 funding bill, including Department of State exchange programs.

Educational and cultural exchange programs are provided $582.531 million in FY16 – about $40.55 million less than the President’s request of $623.079 million, and $7.37 million less than the FY15 enacted level of $589.9 million. 

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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:

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