Washington, DC – Foreign Policy for America notes with concern that the President’s budget request for International Affairs fails to keep pace with the significant growing requirements for U.S. diplomatic leadership. Unfortunately, this request is cause for alarm: if the United States is unable to properly resource the State Department, USAID, and related agencies, it is unlikely the administration will meet its goals of ending the COVID pandemic, reducing the threat of climate change, or effectively competing with China, with serious consequences for American families.
FP4A applauds significant investments in State Department workforce development. These investments are necessary to build a diverse and capable foreign service workforce to meet the challenges posed by an increasingly complex global landscape.
However, while the President’s request includes much needed increases to critical development and humanitarian accounts these increases fell far short of what experts have said is needed to address ongoing challenges. Notably, at time when the world continues to reel from the COVID-19 pandemic, the President’s request for global health funding was nearly $7 billion below what experts have suggested. Critical funding for malnutrition remained level with FY2022’s request despite increasing need, and the President’s request for International Disaster Assistance programming increased less than one percent despite unprecedented humanitarian challenges.
FP4A is encouraged by the $11 billion requested for international climate finance. This represents a tremendous increase from the $2.69 billion included in last year’s request. If delivered, it would nearly fulfill – a year ahead of schedule – the President’s pledge to invest $11.4 billion annually in international climate efforts. This is welcome news, and we look forward to working with administration to ensure this money is channeled effectively, especially through a higher share of grant-based finance and increased support for key multilateral facilities. However, coming only weeks after a final agreement on FY2022 spending that fell completely flat on climate finance, what is most important is for Congress and the Administration to work together and sustain this level of ambition throughout the budgeting process.
With regard to defense spending, the Biden administration passed on the opportunity to recalibrate spending to more efficiently meet our security challenges. We appreciate that the administration chose to discontinue some of the Trump administration’s wasteful and unnecessary nuclear weapons programs, like the Sea-Launched Cruise Missile-Nuclear program (SLCM-N). However, we are disappointed to see the administration’s continuation of other costly programs, such as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent. The cost of this program alone is equal to 5% of the entire International Affairs Budget.
“Unfortunately, President Biden’s proposed international affairs budget falls woefully short of the resources needed to meet today’s security challenges,” said Foreign Policy for America Executive Director Andrew Albertson. “We can’t fight COVID with ICBMs. We can’t stop climate change from devastating our communities with tanks. We need real investment now to meet today’s international challenges, and that starts with modernizing and resourcing the State Department so we can truly lead with diplomacy. Foreign Policy for America looks forward to working with Congress to get this right.”