The International Affairs budget is the portion of the U.S. budget dedicated to supporting American diplomacy and development initiatives, including funding the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Peace Corps. Through the International Affairs budget, the United States promotes democracy and free markets, fights violent extremism, confronts poverty and health crises, and maintains positive relationships with our allies and partners.
Making up just one percent of the federal budget, the International Affairs budget plays a critical role in advancing U.S. interests abroad. It pays for our ability to engage diplomatically overseas, ensuring that we have fully staffed embassies and consulates to represent Americans around the world. It funds development and other foreign assistance programs that help reduce regional instability and address underlying causes of transnational issues like irregular migration, trafficking, and pandemics. And it provides for U.S. contributions to multilateral institutions, which are the backbone of a rules-based international order.
At a time when these non-military tools of foreign policy are more important than ever for addressing complex global challenges – including responding to Russian aggression, confronting climate change, and competing with China – we should be fully investing in diplomacy and development. Yet over the past decade, funding for the International Affairs budget has failed to keep up with inflation, and the House Appropriations Committee has proposed billions in devastating programmatic cuts that would weaken America’s position in the world and leave a leadership void for our adversaries to fill. Moreover, increasingly politicized attacks on historically bipartisan development programs threaten to undo years of work responding to humanitarian and global health crises, supporting climate resilience, and defending democracies at risk.
With the backdrop of rising competition with China and compounding global crises, Congress must properly invest in diplomacy, development, and all other non-military means of engagement with the world. You can contact your members of Congress to urge against cuts to the State Department, USAID, and foreign assistance programs, and to support an increase in overall funding for the International Affairs budget. You can also call on your elected representatives to reject politicized attacks on foreign assistance programs and oppose divisive culture war policy riders.