Furthermore, the Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee thought Obama’s request for $2 billion in refugee assistance wasn’t generous enough and upped the amount to $3 billion.
Aren’t we happy to have fiscally conservative Republicans running the House?
Below, a refugee camp in northern Syria.
If the government rescued Christians and Jews from the Middle East slaughter-fest, it would be a different matter, but such common sense is regarded as evil discrimination in PC Washington.
Congress ups budget for refugees, Politico, June 16, 2014
With an eye toward Iraq, Congress is moving far beyond the White House in providing refugee assistance as part of new spending bills this week covering the State Department and foreign aid budget.
Late Monday, Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee outlined their $48.3 billion package, including over $3 billion for refugee accounts. And Senate Democrats are expected to provide in the same range when they mark up their version of the annual appropriations bill on Tuesday.
In his own 2015 budget in March, President Barack Obama requested just $2 billion for refugee assistance — a one-third cut from what had been enacted in January for 2014. But the Appropriations leadership is clearly uncomfortable with this approach and wants more available, given Syria’s bloody civil war and the spreading turmoil in Iraq.
Indeed, the U.S. has already begun to draw on refugee accounts to deal with the Iraqi crisis, and recent estimates by the United Nations indicate hundreds of thousands have fled in their homes as cities like Mosul have fallen to Sunni Islamist militants.
This adds to a refugee caseload already strained by Syria’s civil war, fighting in southern Sudan and the Central African Republic.
“As needs are constantly shifting, it would be premature to predict how much more we will contribute to each emergency,” said a spokesperson for the State Department. “Last fiscal year , we obligated $2.36 billion. Given the increased needs we are seeing this year, we expect to obligate more than last fiscal year.”
On balance, the 220-page state and foreign operations bill in the House is relatively close to the administration’s total $48.6 billion request, and each includes $5.9 billion in overseas contingency, or OCO, funds counted outside the strict budget caps negotiated last December.
Unlike the early years of GOP control in the House, the debate is now less about total resources and more a question of where the money should go.
Apart from refugee aid, the House bill commits more that the president to global health programs, military aid and fighting drug traffickers in Central America. But the bill also betrays the GOP’s continued distrust of the United Nations and international financial institutions.
An estimated $8.3 billion is provided for global health programs, $132 million below the current year but $257 million more than the administration’s request. A total of $1 billion is allocated for international narcotics control and law enforcement, restoring $232 million in cuts proposed by the White House.
At the same time, the House bill rejects all of a $753 million request by state to fulfill U.S. contributions to U.N. peacekeeping operations. Obama would get none of the $150 million requested for his “peacekeeping response mechanism”— a new initiative that would be financed from within OCO. And the $2.17 billion provided for international financial institutions represents a $445 million reduction from current finding — wiping out all of the $234.5 million provided this year for two international funds to battle climate change on the world stage.
Elsewhere in the draft bill, Israel is promised its full $3.1 billion in military aid — no political surprise. But in the case of Egypt, the House bill appears more generous than the Senate is expected to be Tuesday.
An estimated $200 million is provided in economic support funds — down $50 million from this year and what had been sought by the White House. But the entire $1.3 billion request for military assistance to Cairo is budgeted — albeit with some conditions.
Among legislative provisions added to the bill, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) continues his efforts to override prohibitions on the financing of coal-fired power plants abroad. And in the wake of the controversy over the prisoner swap to free Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan, the bill seeks to tighten the reins on the administration.
New bill language requires notice from Secretary of State John Kerry if he commits to providing aid to foreign governments who accept Guantánamo detainees. That notice would have to be within five days after any such agreement is reached and before it is fully implemented. Moreover, the bill requires regular reports every 45 days from the State Department on any negotiations over the “potential transfer” of detainees.