By RUSSELL RUMBAUGH
Just as the State Department likes to try every year to move war funding into its base funding, Congress likes to move it out. The Senate appropriators provided $2.6B less than the President requested for base f150, International Affairs.*
But the Senate appropriators allocated $6.5B for OCO, or $2.7B more than the President’s request, for basically a wash in total spending. (As always, the House’s base is so far from either the President, Senate, or past figures at $35B in base, its hard to even include it, though we can guess the final appropriation will be lower than the President’s or the Senate’s).
Nevertheless, how the Senate appropriators get to $52B and how the State department gets to $52B are very different. The constant flow in and out of war funding suggests the State Department doesn’t know how to capitalize on Congress’s preferences. Even the House provided double the war funding for State, despite dramatically cutting its base allocation. The recent OIG report on State in Iraq emphasizes the desire to ‘normalize’ its role in Iraq, and it seems State would rather use its budget to express its policy preferences than get the most funding it can.
That’s good budgeting practice, although it might not be the best political tactic.
* Since it doesn’t look like Congress is going along with the proposal to move food aid out of the Agriculture committees to the foreign affairs committees, don’t forget to add it on top of the SFOPs allocation.