USAID

The House of Representatives approved appropriations legislation last night after midnight to fund the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs for fiscal year (FY 2008). The bill, H.R. 2764, which passed by a vote of 241 to 178, includes $501.4 million for the educational and cultural exchange programs of the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The legislation provides total spending for all programs of $34.2 billion, of which $9.977 billion is for the Department of State. The level of funding for the Department of State is $36.604 million below the President’s request, and $272.242 million below the amount appropriated for FY 2007. 

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The House of Representatives approved appropriations legislation last night after midnight to fund the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs for fiscal year (FY 2008). The bill, H.R. 2764, which passed by a vote of 241 to 178, includes $501.4 million for the educational and cultural exchange programs of the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The legislation provides total spending for all programs of $34.2 billion, of which $9.977 billion is for the Department of State. The level of funding for the Department of State is $36.604 million below the President’s request, and $272.242 million below the amount appropriated for FY 2007.

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Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, expressed great concern about the U.S. image abroad at a hearing yesterday morning with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

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Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) introduced legislation last week that would authorize assistance to promote quality basic education and establish the achievement of universal basic education in all developing countries as an objective of United States foreign assistance policy. The legislation, S. 1259, is entitled the Education for All Act of 2007 and is currently pending consideration by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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Members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations turned out in force today to hear from Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes on the state of U.S. public diplomacy programs.

Noting in her opening comments that State has requested $949 million for public diplomacy programs, and an additional $668 million for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), for a combined total of over $1.6 billion, Subcommittee Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) affirmed that “many of us (on the Subcommittee) believe the number should be even greater”, though she added that the Subcommittee’s priorities might differ from State’s.

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Testifying before both the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week on President Bush’s fiscal year (FY) 2008 budget request for the Department of State, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice highlighted the need for investment in critical language skills in the U.S.

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At its organizational meeting yesterday, the recently renamed House Foreign Affairs Committee appointed Members to serve on the full Committee for the 110 th Congress and designated new Subcommittee panels. The Committee has jurisdiction over legislation to authorize the international exchange programs and policies of the State Department, and the programs and operations of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

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On January 4, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) reintroduced legislation to authorize assistance to the countries of the Caribbean to fund educational development and exchange programs. The bill, H.R. 176, has been referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. First introduced during the 109 th Congress in July 2006, the bill attracted 50 cosponsors. To date the new version of the bill has no cosponsors.

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Prior to the summer recess, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) of Oakland, introduced legislation to authorize assistance to the countries of the Caribbean to fund educational development and exchange programs. The bill, H.R. 5784, was introduced in mid-July, and currently has 43 cosponsors. It has been referred to the House International Relations Committee.

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The Senate Appropriations Committee recently issued its report to the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs legislation for fiscal year (FY) 2007, detailing the Committee’s rationale for making reductions in a number of key programs. The legislation would reduce overall funding for Development Assistance, including basic education programs. It would also lower funding levels for the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). While the legislation would provide a slight increase for the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), a program to provide assistance to countries that have demonstrated a commitment to democracy, open markets and human rights protections, the funding level falls far short of the amount requested by President Bush.

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