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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The Japanese government will invest $15 million to support Japanese studies at nine U.S. universities, reports University World News, noting that the funding decision was reaffirmed during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent week-long official visit to the U.S.

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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Five former U.S. ambassadors to Germany believe that the decision to cut funding for the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program (CBYX) by 50 per cent “runs contrary to U.S. interests”:

“At a time when our two countries need to work together more closely on numerous transatlantic and global issues, slashing this successful program is the wrong decision for German-American relations.”

Despite being a “textbook example” of soft power and “the best money we spend overseas,” the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) has experienced consistent funding cuts over the past several years, Foreign Policy reports:

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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.

In a podcast (in German) on the German government website, Chancellor Angela Merkel discusses current transatlantic issues, including her concern over funding cuts to the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) program. Katherine Lindemann, a political science student from Maine who is currently studying at Humboldt University in Berlin, conducted the interview.

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The President’s FY16 budget, released earlier today (see pages 31-33), requests $623.079 million for Department of State international exchange programs, a 5.6 per cent increase over current levels—a robust number in difficult budget times, and a concrete sign of the Obama administration’s support of exchanges.

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Alumni of the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) program have launched a “Save CBYX” campaign, in response to the decision to cut funding for the program by 50% for the 2015-2016 program year, the Atlantic Review reports. Through the campaign, alumni are “asking all supporters to sign an online petition appealing to the State Department to reverse its decision.”

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