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Foreign Aid Fight Imperils International Family Planning

May 19, 2010

As expected, the President's proposed foreign aid budget has run into opposition in Congress, opposition that could also endanger the President's proposed increase in international family planning assistance. On April 22, the Senate Budget Committee adopted a budget resolution for fiscal year 2011 that trims the President's budget request for the State Department and foreign assistance by $4 billion to $54.49 billion, a cut of 7 percent.

The cut, if upheld by the full House and Senate, could translate into a comparable size reduction in the $715.7 million proposed by the President for international family planning assistance, which is contained in the international affairs budget.

Opposition to the proposed cut, however, is building. Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Christopher Bond (R-MO), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) are leading a bipartisan effort to build support in the Senate for fully funding the President's budget for international affairs. They are circulating a letter asking their fellow Senators to join them in signing a letter to Appropriations Committee Chair Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-MS), urging them fully fund the President's $58.8 billion request in the all-important 302(b) appropriation allocations. 

If that effort should fail, it could endanger efforts by family planning groups to secure a bigger appropriation next year for international family planning assistance.  The President's request of $715.7 million for FY2011 is 10.3 percent above the 2010 funding level, but significantly below the $1 billion appropriation advocated by the International Family Planning Coalition and related groups.

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