The United States will request from our Congress assistance for Afghanistan at or near the levels of the past decade through the year 2017.
Those words are very carefully chosen to acknowledge the axiom that “the President proposes, but Congress disposes.” And it’s a good thing. The chart reviews just a small selection of assistance programs benefiting Afghanistan, each of which recently has been trimmed from the President’s request by defense appropriations bills that cleared the full House in mid-July and Senate committee yesterday.
These appropriations decisions are likely to be supplanted by a 6-month continuing resolution agreed to in principle by House Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Reid on Tuesday. That decision would keep this funding on the same near-term trajectory, yet Clinton still is correct to distinguish administration policy from congressional appropriations commitments. While Congress may be some time away from passing full FY2013 appropriations, it’s already shown a willingness to exercise its own discretion on Afghan aid.