President Obama has released his FY09 supplemental request asking for additional funds to support programs at the Defense Department, State Department and others. He requested $7.1 billion for international affairs, which primarily includes the State Department, USAID and the Department of Agriculture.
Supplemental requests for the international affairs budget reflect President Obama’s foreign policy objectives for Afghanistan, Iraq and other regions critical to security – as well as his commitment to ending the practice of large supplemental budgets. This supplemental budget was not as far-reaching as past requests, but does include a number of funding requests that would be more appropriately addressed in FY 2010 budget debate.
The request shows a shift in foreign policy priorities from Iraq toward Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ten percent of the total international affairs request is for Iraq, 23% for Afghanistan and 20% for Pakistan. In the FY 2008 supplemental request, 35% of funding requested was for Iraq, while Afghanistan was budgeted for 23% and Pakistan 2%.
Afghanistan-Pakistan Strategy: The administration requested $429.5 million for Pakistan in Economic Support Funds (ESF) meant to stabilize Pakistan’s economy, restore infrastructure, and assist internally displaced populations. The administration also requested $806.2 million for embassy security and construction in Pakistan, some of may better belong in the FY 2010 base budget discussion. The largest item is a $736.5 million upgrade of facilities in Islamabad to meet security and building infrastructure needs.
For Afghanistan, $839 million is requested in ESF for counternarcotics and stabilization, rule of law and economic development. An additional $363 million is requested in Diplomatic and Consular Programs (D&CP) for increased staffing levels, support operations, and security programs, and $129 million in International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) funds for counter narcotics programs.
Economic Fund for Poor Countries: The president requested $448 million for a new program to help poor countries cope with the worldwide economic crisis. This bilateral program will be separate from any new commitments to the International Monetary Fund. The administration provided few details on this program in the request.
Gaza and the West Bank: The supplemental request includes $556 million in ESF for Gaza and the West Bank, part of the funds that Secretary Clinton committed to the Palestinian Authority in March. The $61 million for humanitarian relief in Gaza and $12 million for humanitarian assistance in the West Bank address unforeseen emergencies and are appropriately included in the supplemental.
Mexico: The president has requested $66 million through INCLE for additional counternarcotics funding to Mexico, which could have been included in the base budget for FY 2010 since it was an anticipated requirement. This is in addition to $350 million requested for the Department of Defense Operations and Maintenance account for counternarcotics on the US-Mexico border.
Honest Budgeting: In previous years, supplementals were used to make up for deliberate under-budgeting in 150 accounts. The budgets would request funds significantly below the known requirement, and the supplemental would be used to bring funds up to the real operating level. This was particularly the case for programs like ESF, MRA and IDA. The graph below illustrates the growth in supplemental funding for needs that could and should be anticipated in the base budget.
The Obama administration has said it intend to end this practice by budgeting 150 programs at their full annual level in the FY 2010 budget. However, this year’s supplemental has had to compensate for previous FY 2009 under-budgeting, so several programs that should have been fully funded through the FY 2009 budget continue to be funded through supplementals.