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My earlier post on congressional funding for multilateral institutions betrayed little optimism about the Senate’s willingness to restore devastating funding cuts imposed by the House of Representatives. I had no idea.

The newly released Senate funding levels are just barely an improvement over the House’s draconian cuts, slashing the president’s multilateral budget in half. When cuts of 50 percent mark an improvement, you know you’re in trouble.

All told, the congressional response to the president’s budget request is a disaster for US leadership at the World Bank and the regional development banks. And the timing couldn’t be worse. Just when so much of the rest of the world is following China’s lead in showing how easy it can be to ambitiously fund the multilaterals, the United States is making it look like an impossible task.

There is one glimmer of hope, and it rests on the power of gridlock. Should Congress fail to deliver spending bills for the president’s signature this year, the ultimate outcome will be a continuing resolution (CR), which will simply carry forward the previous year’s funding levels. Since last year’s budget actually delivered on most of the president’s request, a CR would be a reasonably good outcome. Or at least one that is marked by treading water rather than drowning. 

Disclaimer

CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.