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House proposes massive cuts to U.S. aid, diplomacy

By Bradley Klapper

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 10:07 a.m. HST, Jul 18, 2013

WASHINGTON » House Republicans proposed slashing billions of dollars in U.S. diplomacy and overseas aid programs today in legislation that will face fierce opposition from the Obama administration and the Democratic-led Senate.

The House Appropriations Committee's 2014 foreign operations bill would give full funding to embassy security, with the goal of preventing a repeat of last year's deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya. The measure also would maintain security money for allies Israel and Jordan.

But it would cut heavily in other areas, taking spending down to $34.1 billion. That's $8 billion or about 20 percent lower than last year. Along with proposed cuts to the Internal Revenue Service, the measure includes some of the most severe elements of the GOP's cost-cutting effort.

"Given all of the country's needs and fiscal realities, we must prioritize our very limited funds on only the most important international activities," said the committee chairman, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky.

His bill, he said, decreases spending for "lower-priority programs or those that we simply cannot afford at this time."

These include all of the State Department's money to combat climate change and promote clean technology, as well as funding for several U.N. and international organizations.

The U.S. Agency for International Development's budget would drop around 11 percent to $1.4 billion, while the State Department's funding level for foreign government assistance would fall by a quarter to $17.3 billion.

Tough conditions would be attached on aid to Afghanistan, Egypt, Pakistan and the Palestinians.

Republicans are seeking again to block U.S. funds to any U.N. body or international family-planning group that may be involved in abortion, a change that the Senate has knocked down several times since Obama overturned the policy of President George W. Bush.

Much in the bill is unlikely to ever become law. Since leaving the Senate to become America's top diplomat, Secretary of State John Kerry has repeatedly made the case that foreign assistance programs represent less than 1 percent of the federal budget, far less than the impression given by some lawmakers. The White House, too, opposes extreme cuts to foreign operations.

"We are very concerned," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters. "These proposed cuts, which would be devastating if put into effect, would hurt our ability to stand up for American interests and values around the world. The U.S. can't lead if we retreat in this way."

Harf said the proposed 41 percent cut in economic develop assistance would hurt countries suffering from severe poverty, such as Afghanistan and Somalia, to regional partners such as Mexico and Colombia. It also would force cutbacks in anti-hunger programs in Africa, she said.

Like other agencies, the State Department has suffered from the across-the-board automatic spending reductions that went into effect earlier this year. The cuts forced the United States to cut $2.6 billion in global humanitarian aid, security funds and other international programs in some of the world's most unstable regions.

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kapoleitalkstory wrote:
So when the next Benghazi happens they can blame Pres. Obama for their budget cuts. Why not cut all the corporate welfare for oil companies first and then take a look at the budget!
on July 18,2013 | 10:12AM
1local wrote:
the USA needs to focus on domestic needs - it is time others pay for the ineptness of the world - the majority of countries have become addicted to USA aid money which a bankrupt country can no longer afford...
on July 18,2013 | 12:22PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Let's keep our money here in the US. Not Egypt, Mexico, Colombia, Africa, LostinSpaceistan or any of the other places that take our cash and hate us in return.
on July 18,2013 | 10:45AM
Pocho wrote:
I agree, take care of our own 1st. The homeless crowd is ever expanding. And these overseas countries that gets our monetary aid, hates the US. They hate the hands that feed then
on July 18,2013 | 12:17PM
mikethenovice wrote:
The Republicans goal is not to share
on July 18,2013 | 11:43AM
Denominator wrote:
The Democrats want more of someone else's money so they can give to another country?
on July 18,2013 | 12:53PM
mikethenovice wrote:
The GOP just wants to play hardball to embarrass the Democrats at the expense of the American people as hostage.
on July 18,2013 | 11:45AM
false wrote:
The GOP is mindless.
on July 18,2013 | 12:44PM
baileygirl9631 wrote:
It's about time! They ought to cut a lot more for the Middle east and take care of our country first. There are a lot more people in need in this country. First pull all our troops back, NOW!
on July 18,2013 | 11:52AM
krusha wrote:
I guess the Republicans never heard of the phrase penny wise, pound foolish...
on July 18,2013 | 12:30PM
false wrote:
Time to take care of our own.
on July 18,2013 | 12:44PM
konag43 wrote:
slash it. why are we giving aid when we have starving people and people without jobs and homes in the us. besides none of these countries appreciate the aid. they are just using the us.
on July 18,2013 | 01:31PM
loquaciousone wrote:
This is the first step towards fiscal responsibility. Have you notice that countries like Pakistan and Egypt who we give billions of dollars to made the top 10 list of countries who hate us?
on July 18,2013 | 02:09PM
palisadesron wrote:
"..........State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters. "These proposed cuts, which would be devastating if put into effect, would hurt our ability to stand up for American interests and values........." = In other words, no more payoffs to other countiries. "Harf said the proposed 41 percent cut in economic develop assistance would hurt countries suffering from severe poverty, such as Afghanistan and Somalia......" = Countries who have always and will always be in poverty.
on July 18,2013 | 02:45PM
HD36 wrote:
We can't keep borrowing money at near 0% interest and give it away for free just to influence the dictators of the world.
on July 18,2013 | 06:57PM
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