While we don’t often blog congressional hearings, yesterday’s discussion of “The Budget, Diplomacy, and Development” in the House Foreign Affairs Committee struck us as especially important given the uncertainty facing the foreign assistance budget: the level of consensus in acknowledging that deep cuts to the international affairs budget would be unwise and undermine US interests felt remarkable.
CGD Policy Blogs
On Tuesday the Trump Administration dropped a long-feared executive order on climate change. There’s no sugarcoating it—this order is an attempted assault by the administration on the climate we all depend on, the world’s poorest people most of all. Nevertheless, just how bad things get depends not just on vigorous opposition to these moves within the US, but more and more on other countries.
With big cuts to US bilateral and multilateral assistance looming, the House Committee on Financial Services convened a hearing to investigate accountability and results at the World Bank. Scott Morris, CGD’s director of the US Development Policy initiative (DPI), was joined by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ Sasha Chavkin, CalTech’s Jean Ensminger, and BIC’s Elana Berger. It was a thoughtful conversation, with everyone on the panel agreeing that it is in the United States’ interest to continue engagement with the World Bank. Here are my main takeaways from the hearing.
Put funding for the 150 account in context, and you better understand the broader trend and two crucial points: (1) the 150 Account is a tiny slice of the federal budget, so proposed cuts will contribute little toward shoring up much larger accounts like national defense; and (2) increases in foreign assistance over the past sixteen years have supported US development efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and helped deliver on a historic US commitment to fight global HIV/AIDS, particularly in Africa.
What Do the Trump Administration's Budget Cuts Mean—and What Do They Mask? – Podcast with Scott Morris and Amanda Glassman
What do the cuts mean for the people most affected and for America’s role as a global development leader? That’s the subject of this edition of the CGD Podcast.
The Trump Administration’s skinny budget is a bit of a public relations exercise in trying to have it both ways on the 150 Account, as observed by our colleague Scott Morris. We’re going to cut dramatically to “prioritize” Americans, but wait, it’s really just a minor reform and rightsizing to get rid of some duplications!
The budget just released zeroes out the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the nation’s development finance institution. In an era where many government agencies are under threat, it may not be surprising that OPIC would come under fire. Yet, none of the arguments often used to justify killing off OPIC are logical. Here’s why.
The debate at a recent CGD event eloquently demonstrated once again that this is a moment of deep uncertainty and basic disagreement about the future and purpose of aid programs and development agencies. But even more risk is introduced into this perilous mix if we fail to understand what we already have in the toolkit and how these tools can be used to meet needs.
The Foreign Aid Cuts Look to Be Real Enough, but the Trump Administration Doesn’t Necessarily Want to Own Them
So it turns out the “skinny budget” released by the White House is really just a press release—a sprinkling of numbers amidst a lot of assertion and characterization of the real budget that is yet to come. When it comes to foreign assistance, the skinny budget doesn’t quite know what it wants to be, with statements that are both confused and confusing.
Big cuts are likely coming to the State Department and USAID. So how can the US make the best use of fewer foreign assistance dollars in future? That was the subject of a heated debate at CGD earlier this week. CGD’s Scott Morris, the director of our US Development Policy Initiative, joined leading thinkers from across the political spectrum—Danielle Pletka from the American Enterprise Institute, Jim Roberts from the Heritage Foundation, and John Norris from the Center for American Progress—to discuss the best way to move forward with limited resources.