The administration is requesting $770 million in new foreign aid spending in an account called Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Incentive Fund. According to the State Department, the new funding is intended to capitalize on the opportunities presented by the Arab Spring: supporting nations in the region undertaking the democratic and economic reforms necessary to promote lasting stability in the region. Still, as our own Gordon Adams recently told The Cable:
[The MENA Incentive Fund] will be controversial because there's no content. It's a contingency fund and Congress doesn't like to give State contingency funds….It's probably not a bad idea in theory but it is way too large for having no program.
In this budget environment, Congress will likely be looking for easy targets, and a new and unspecified contingency fund may be one of the easiest.