WASHINGTON – The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs bill this week with a significant number of foreign policy and national security measures authored and championed by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Provisions related to democracy and good governance, development assistance – including the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) – atrocity prevention and efforts to support Israel and combat anti-Semitism were included in the bill, which Senator Cardin characterized as “an important step forward in ensuring robust U.S. global leadership.” He added: “Promoting democracy, good governance and anti-corruption efforts are so vital to our success in safeguarding our security, promoting our prosperity, and extending our values."
Not included in the legislation was additional funding to address earthquake recovery efforts in Nepal. Senator Cardin had requested $109 million but, with only $50 million provided, Cardin said that "we must do more to assist Nepal as they rebuild from this devastating earthquake.” Additionally, the full amount requested by the Administration for the U.S. commitment to the Green Climate Fund fell short, though Cardin lauded the successful bipartisan effort to provide $500 million for this important initiative to help least developed countries become more resilient to the dire effects of climate change.
"Today, the United States and our allies and partners face numerous challenges in a complex and rapidly changing world - be it from a revisionist Russia, a barbaric ISIL, a despotic regime such as Assad's Syria, democratic institutions under stress, or, frankly a changing climate. These challenges demand a flexible, agile and fully-funded State Department and United States Agency for International Development able to focus efficiently and effectively to leverage all elements of U.S. power and strength, starting with the power of our ideas and our ideals", Cardin said.
“In Congress nowadays, regular order is unfortunately rare but I am very pleased that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle found value in a number of the priorities I have worked on for years and advanced in this good bill. I will continue to advocate for additional resources to use the full range of tools in America’s diplomatic arsenal to make the world a safer, healthier, more free place for all people,” Cardin added.
The following factsheet details some of Senator Cardin’s regional and issue-specific priorities that he fought for in the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs bill
- Almost $3 billion for democracy programs, including for National Endowment for Democracy and for the Democracy Fund account.
- An increase of $300 million above the president's budget request, to $3.4 billion, for military aid for Israel and language from legislation cosponsored by Senator Cardin to provide state and local governments with the authority to divest from entities that engage in boycotts of Israel.
- Assistance to counter Russian aggression in Crimea.
- Language on investigations and accountability for war crimes in Syria, as called for in Cardin’s Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act.
- A recommendation that no less than $1 million be spent on anti-Semitism abroad annually, including support for a new OSCE initiative to combat racism and xenophobia.
- More than $1.05 billion for food security and agricultural development through sustained investment in another Cardin priority, the Feed The Future Initiative.
- $905 million for the MCC, an increase over last year’s $901 million, and plus-up that includes Cardin’s legislation to authorize MCC to enter into regional concurrent compacts with partner countries.
- Promoting and supporting democracy, civil society and governance in Africa has been a top priority for Cardin, including a Resolution he introduced in April of this year that calls on the Administrator of USAID to develop a strategy to support democracy and governance in Ethiopia. The Foreign Operations bill provides $339.325 million for democracy and governance programs in Africa, a vital investment in Africa's future.
- For the Asia-Pacific region the bill includes funding levels that reflect Cardin's Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative legislation, providing significant new resources for Foreign Military Financing, Intentional Military Education and Training, and law enforcement cooperation in the region.
- $25 million for the Atrocities Prevention Fund to implement the recommendations of the Atrocities Prevention Board, although overall funding for conflict mitigation and crisis management efforts was less than requested. Cardin is the author of the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act.
- Cardin was also pleased to note that -- as he requested -- the bill includes resources for the expansion of the Department of State workforce diversity programs, including the Pickering and Rangel Fellowship Programs and expanded partnership between the Department’s internship program and community-based organizations.
- The Appropriations Committee added to Cardin’s recommended $8.57 billion for the Global Health Account with $8.665 billion in funding, as well as $6 billion for global HIV/AIDS efforts and $275 million for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.