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Ros-Lehtinen Calls for Severe Cuts to State, USAID

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This week, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) sent a letter to the House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) on her recommendations regarding the FY12 budget request, Josh Rogin reports. Ros-Lehtinen writes, “It is no longer sufficient to ask whether a particular activity is useful. Rather, the correct question is whether a given activity is so important that it justifies borrowing money to pay for it.” She goes on to describe what she sees as a central problem with these programs: “In evaluating the FY2012 budget, the Majority also identified an endemic problem: misplaced priorities.  The Administration is proposing dramatic increases in global health and climate change programs while cutting key programs, such as the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism partnership and the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism – at a time when al-Qaeda affiliates in Africa set their sights on American targets, and American citizens are being captured and killed by Somali pirates.”

She goes on to list a series of cuts to and eliminations of over a dozen State Department and USAID programs, including:

  • Elimination of funding for Lebanon and the West Bank and Gaza, as well as the Asia Foundation, the East-West Center, and the U.S. Institute of Peace, and denial of the State Department’s plans to raise pay for its overseas Foreign Service Officers;
  • Reducing total USAID funding to FY08 levels, for a savings of $2.9 billion;
  • Freezing the total of direct-hire personnel at USAID;
  • Reducing Development Assistance funding and increasing Development Credit Authority funding, in order to leverage more outside dollars while decreasing US dollars spent;
  • Eliminating foreign assistance to countries with foreign assistance programs of their own, including: China (except for help for the Tibetan people and democracy activists within China); South Africa (specifically development assistance – health is not mentioned); India, and Brazil.
  • Reducing global environmental programs by half and reallocating a large portion of the remaining funding to democracy and governance programs;
  • Eliminating funding for UNDP and UNFPA;
  • Premising the provision of more food assistance to North Korea on a full accounting of the 20,000 tons of US food assistance that disappeared in 2009 and the securing of guarantees that new assistance will not be diverted for the 2012 celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung.
  • Eliminating funding for Vietnam;
  • Reconsidering the President’s request for $769 million in bilateral family planning funding.

Also included in the document is Ranking Member Howard Berman’s dissent. Berman writes, “In a world characterized by great turmoil and uncertainty, the budget request represents the resources needed to protect Americans and American national security interests around the world,” Berman wrote.”