As advocates, we seek a world with peace and justice. Our work varies with each Congress and administration. We constantly push for progress, and sometimes that requires us to play defense to protect federal initiatives that save lives and protect the earth.
The House bill features unconscionable cuts to essential programs. Fortunately, this isn’t the end of the line for our advocacy—our work now shifts to the Senate.
A few weeks ago, when President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (CA-20) reached a deal on the debt ceiling and budget, we knew there would be hard work ahead to protect critical, life-sustaining programs from budget cuts. Their agreement limited overall government spending for two years, essentially cutting program funding in a time of inflation.
That reality became more apparent last week as we got our first real look at what we’re up against. Chairman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-26) released his House Appropriations subcommittee’s version of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPs) Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2024. This is one of 12 bills that provides funding for the federal government.
On June 23, the subcommittee advanced this bill by a party-line vote. The subcommittee’s version features unconscionable cuts to essential programs. Fortunately, this isn’t the end of the line for our advocacy—our work now shifts to the Senate.
The Budget Deal Limited Spending, The House Bill Goes Even Lower on Peacebuilding, Climate, and Migration
The House appropriations subcommittee’s SFOPs bill rejected the Biden-McCarthy negotiated debt ceiling and budget agreement. Instead, the bill proposes dramatic cuts to funding for diplomacy, peacebuilding, economic development, climate adaptation, migration, and humanitarian assistance—12% below the agreed levels. The bill:
Limits support for peace:
At a time when the world faces some of the highest levels of violence and more active armed conflicts than at any point since the end of World War II, this legislation proposes untenable cuts to several critical peacebuilding programs. These include a 50% cut to the Complex Crises Fund and no funding for Atrocities Prevention and Reconciliation Programs. This is a step in the wrong direction. As United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres succinctly stated, “Instead of responding to crises, we need to invest far more in prevention. Prevention works, saves lives, and is cost-effective.”
Reduces support for migrants and refugees:
The bill also cuts Migration and Refugee Assistance by more than 40% and eliminates the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund. These funds support some of the world’s most vulnerable people as they seek refuge in times of crisis by enabling the United States to respond to sudden spikes in humanitarian need. Additionally, critical humanitarian funding for natural disasters, conflict, and other emergent crises experienced nearly a 20% cut from FY 2023 levels.
Ignores global climate commitments:
The bill also explicitly prohibits funding for the Green Climate Fund and State Department’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. As one of the leading historical emitters of greenhouse gases, the United States has a moral responsibility to act to address the global climate crisis. These cuts would eliminate U.S. investments in climate adaptation and assistance for the Global South, which bears the worst impacts of increasing storms, floods, and drought with fewer resources to respond.
Withdraws U.S. support for global institutions:
Additionally, the House proposal eliminates funding for the U.N. regular budget and several U.N. bodies, including UNESCO, the U.N. Development Programme, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, U.N. Women, and the U.N. Environment Fund.
The Proposed Cuts Would Be Devastating, But We Have Time to Prevent the Worst Harms
Rather than reinforcing our nation’s shared values and global leadership, Chairman Diaz-Balart’s FY24 SFOPs bill would dramatically increase human suffering and displacement, slash conflict prevention and peacebuilding programs, prevent critical climate adaption work, and weaken the United States’ standing and diplomatic influence globally.
Through our advocacy, we can help ensure that money is allocated to programs that respond to climate change, reduce violent conflict, alleviate suffering, and strengthen diplomacy.
Fortunately, the House does not get the last word.
The Senate is formulating its proposal. This is our chance to make sure lawmakers understand the need to protect and invest in these programs and the communities they serve.
In the upper chamber of Congress, things are already looking more promising. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to adhere to the spending levels in the Biden-McCarthy budget agreement. This means significantly more funds will be available to support these vital programs. Through our advocacy, we can help ensure that money is allocated to programs that respond to climate change, reduce violent conflict, alleviate suffering, and strengthen diplomacy.
As the House and Senate Appropriations Committees continue their work, FCNL advocates in Washington, D.C., and around the country will remain steadfast in our advocacy to protect investments in the critical programs that make an outsized difference in the lives of our neighbors worldwide.