Washington, DC – Today, as Congress breaks for August recess, Foreign Policy for America is pleased to recognize recent steps made by the Senate to strengthen American global leadership and national security. When Congress returns in September, FP4A looks forward to working with our partners to further advance these important issues.
First, for the first time in five years and with strong bipartisan support, the Senate advanced all 12 appropriations bills out of the Appropriations Committee. This includes a decisive, bipartisan 27-2 vote proposing $61.6 billion in State and Foreign Operations spending. By rejecting the 12% cut House Republicans have sought so far, this vote sends a strong signal about the importance of investing in international engagement and U.S. global leadership. However, the proposed spending fails to keep pace with the mounting global challenges we face, from climate change and food insecurity to conflict and instability, and amounts to a reduction from last year’s $59.9 billion level once inflation is factored in. We urge Congress to appropriate additional spending in a final budget.
Second, the Senate passed a version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that, unlike its House counterpart, focuses on addressing core national security priorities and investing in American defense and diplomacy. Importantly, it includes a State Department Authorization bill, which funds the Department’s programs and activities on an annual basis and strengthens the centrality of diplomacy and international engagement to our national security. FP4A is also encouraged to see the Senate’s NDAA include the Foreign Extortion Prevention Act, which will equip U.S. law enforcement with the tools to tackle foreign bribery and corruption at its source; the bipartisan ADVANCE Act, which will both strengthen U.S. leadership in advanced nuclear energy development, deployment, and regulation and address harms from legacy nuclear activities; and the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which will extend financial compensation and expand coverage to communities affected by prior U.S. nuclear testing or uranium mining.
Finally, the Senate cleared a slate of 17 ambassadorial and diplomatic nominations after months of holdups. This includes career ambassadors to Niger, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Micronesia, the UAE, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), as well as the deputy CEO of the U.S. Development Finance Corporation. While there remains a significant backlog of qualified nominees to important posts who have yet to be confirmed by the Senate, this breakthrough reenforces the need to depoliticize the nomination process, even as hundreds of military promotions remain stalled by the actions of a single senator.
These positive developments all stand in stark contrast to what was taking place in the House of Representatives during the same period. In an unprecedented departure from what is historically a bipartisan effort, House appropriators advanced in a near party-line vote an NDAA laden with politicized, culture war provisions that will undermine our military strength and readiness, and that slashes support for international engagement and foreign assistance. When Congress returns in September, FP4A hopes that the bipartisanship and pragmatism displayed by the Senate will ultimately prevail in producing final NDAA legislation and an International Affairs Budget that together strengthen U.S. global leadership and equip the United States to tackle our global challenges. We also hope to see the Senate take seriously its responsibility to swiftly confirm nominated diplomats and military leaders.