USAID

Noting that Congress is “doing the unthinkable – downsizing the President’s foreign policy budget request at a time of our greatest diplomatic crisis in decades”, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-IN) said yesterday that the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) will have a hard time as it competes for scarce funds in seeking to fulfill its ambitious vision over the next six to 12 months. His comments were made at a hearing to assess the progress of the MCC program.

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The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the Foreign Operations spending legislation last week, providing an increase of $2 billion over current levels for programs ranging from development assistance to aid for the Middle East and HIV/AIDS funding. The Senate legislation would cut the proposed level of spending for the President’s Millennium Challenge Corporation, but the bill would fund the program at a higher level than last year. The bill would provide $19.5 billion overall for foreign assistance programs, $1 million below the House level of $19.4 billion, and $1.9 billion below the President’s request.

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The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the Foreign Operations spending legislation last week, providing an increase of $2 strongillion over current levels for programs ranging from development assistance to aid for the Middle East and HIV/AIDS funding. The Senate legislation would cut the proposed level of spending for the President’s Millennium Challenge Corporation, strongut the strongill would fund the program at a higher level than last year. The strongill would provide $19.5 strongillion overall for foreign assistance programs, $1 million strongelow the House level of $19.4 strongillion, and $1.9 strongillion strongelow the President’s request.

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The House of Representatives approved legislation on Thursday, July 15, to fund the foreign operations activities of the U.S. government for Fiscal Year (FY) 2005, including development assistance, aid to the Middle East, and other important programs. The $19.4 billion package, passed by a vote of 365-41, is $1.9 billion less than President bush's request, but $1.9 billion more than Congress appropriated for FY 2004. The three "overriding priorities" of the legislation, as outlined in the report language accompanying the bill, are: responding to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic; supporting our allies in the war on terrorism; and supporting innovative approaches to foreign assistance through the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

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Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) today advised USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios that, "We face severe fiscal constraints in the coming year…The fact is, we are likely to receive a budget allocation for the subcommittee that is significantly below the President's request."

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The Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday approved legislation authorizing $375.346 million for educational and cultural exchange programs in the Department of State for Fiscal Year 2005. The bill passed by a vote of 19 to 0. It would authorize $150 million of that total for Fulbright exchanges in FY 2005, of which $5 million is designated for the Vietnam Fulbright Academic Exchange.

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Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ) today labeled American foreign aid spending as "a national disgrace". Payne added that while he strongly supports the Bush Administration's Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) and HIV/AIDS initiatives, he is deeply concerned that funding for these new initiatives will increasingly come at the expense of core development programs.

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Repeatedly citing polling data showing profound anti-American sentiment around the world, senior members of Congress today expressed disappointment at the Bush Administration's reaction to a major report on U.S. public diplomacy in the Middle East, calling the response 'lackluster', 'tepid', and 'discouraging'.

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In his FY 2005 budget, which tightens spending for most discretionary programs outside of homeland security and defense, President Bush called for a small increase in spending for educational and cultural exchange programs at the Department of State. The FY 2005 request of $345.346 million is equal to the amount requested last year, and $25.346 million above the amount appropriated by Congress in FY 2004.

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In his FY 2005 budget, which tightens spending for most discretionary programs outside of homeland security and defense, President Bush called for a small increase in spending for educational and cultural exchange programs at the Department of State. The FY 2005 request of $345.346 million is equal to the amount requested last year, and $25.346 million above the amount appropriated by Congress in FY 2004.

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