Congress Reaffirms Importance of Foreign Aid

Washington, D.C. (February 15, 2019) – Save the Children and Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) applauded Congress for its reaffirmation of U.S. leadership on poverty-focused development, global health, and humanitarian relief accounts in the final fiscal year 2019 omnibus bill that the President signed today.

“This bill sends an unequivocal message that U.S. leadership around the globe extends to helping children survive and thrive in some of the world’s most challenging circumstances,” said Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children. “We thank Congressional champions for their steadfast support for life-saving development, global health, and humanitarian assistance programs.”

For the second fiscal year in a row, Congress rejected the deep, disproportionate cuts to life-saving programs proposed by the Administration. This is an important step toward ensuring that all children across the globe, no matter where they live and no matter their ethnicity, race or gender have the opportunity to survive and thrive in some of the world’s most challenging places. 

As Congress looks to budget caps negotiations for fiscal year later this year, it is critical that they build on this momentum and further strengthen the U.S.’ ability to help empower the most marginalized and deprived children and families around the world.  Congressional and civil society engagement in how U.S. assistance helps countries transition to meeting their own development needs – and become stronger partners for the U.S. – also remains important in the coming year.

The $54.2 billion allocation for international assistance in fiscal year 2019 is an increase over fiscal year 2018’s final enacted funding level for the Department of State, USAID, and related programs. In addition, Congress shifted a portion of overseas contingency operations (OCO) funding to base funding for foreign aid – a crucial step signaling budgetary responsibility for critical humanitarian programs.

Miles said the bill supports U.S. leadership toward building long-term, sustainable systems through basic education, international agricultural programs, investments in gender equality, and other such programs that help build a country’s capacity to meet the needs of its people. Miles also calls on Congress to ensure funding for operating expenses to continue positive momentum on agency reforms.

Highlights from the just-passed omnibus include:

  • Maternal and Child Health – $835 million, an increase of $5.5 million from FY2018 final enacted, including $290 million for Gavi, a global vaccine alliance helping to provide low-cost immunizations for those in greatest need.  In addition, the final agreement retains provisions of the Reach Every Mother and Child Act, authored by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Chris Coons (D-DE).  This policy language requires development and implementation of a strategy for ending preventable child and maternal deaths and a report detailing progress toward this goal.
  • Nutrition – $145 million, an increase of $20 million from FY2018 final enacted
  • International Disaster Assistance – $4.385 billion, an increase of $100 million from FY2018 final enacted
  • Migration and Refugee Assistance – $3.432 billion, an increase of $73 million from FY2018 final enacted
  • Food for Peace – $1.716 billion, level funding from FY2018 final enacted
  • Feed the Future – $1.0006 billion, level funding from FY2018 final enacted
  • Basic Education – $800 million, level funding from FY2018 final enacted
  • McGovern-Dole School International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program – $210.255 million, an increase of $2.629 million from FY2018 final enacted
  • USAID Operating Expenses – $1.372 billion, an increase of $25.199 million from FY2018 final enacted

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