U.S. President Joe Biden. Photo by: Cameron Smith / Official White House Photo
U.S. President Joe Biden has proposed an increase for U.S. foreign assistance programs in the next fiscal year. While the White House’s $5.8 trillion budget request, released Monday, includes noteworthy proposals on climate finance and multilateral health initiatives, some advocates said it should be the “floor” for budget negotiations this year, and others said “it doesn’t meet the moment.”
Biden requested $60.4 billion for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. That is $1.9 billion more than the White House requested last year, and would be an increase of $7.4 billion over what was enacted in fiscal 2021, the final year of former President Donald Trump’s administration. Roughly half of the requested total — $29.4 billion — would be administered by USAID.
Devex has previously reported on concerns that the response to Russia’s war on Ukraine could see donor governments, including the United States, divert resources from humanitarian, development, and global health funding to military spending. The entire proposed budget for the State Department and USAID is less than Biden’s requested increase for the Department of Defense, which is $69 billion over 2021 spending levels.
“This moment requires a global health budget with ambition and vision, and unfortunately this proposal comes up short.”
— Elisha Dunn-Georgiou, president and CEO, Global Health Council
The White House budget proposal provides an outline of the administration’s priorities and initiates a monthslong appropriations process that is primarily controlled by the U.S. Congress. Lawmakers only just came to an agreement on the fiscal 2022 budget, even though the fiscal year started months ago.
The budget for fiscal 2022, which was passed earlier this month, kept aid spending mostly flat. That came as an unwelcome shock for aid advocates who hoped the Biden administration and U.S. lawmakers would agree that the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, climate change, and other challenges should be met with major new investments in global development.
In contrast, Biden’s latest budget request is “a significant and serious proposal to help protect the health, safety, and economic interests of every American family at a time of unprecedented and growing global threats,” said Liz Schrayer, the CEO at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. But, she added, it “must be the floor in negotiations.”
Among the noteworthy proposals is a request for $11 billion in international climate finance, including a $1.6 billion contribution to the Green Climate Fund. If approved, these funds would allow the administration to meet its pledge to quadruple climate finance — one year ahead of schedule.
Biden’s request also includes a $2 billion contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which is presented as part of a $6 billion pledge over three years. The U.S. is set to host the Global Fund’s seventh replenishment conference later this year, and advocates applauded Biden’s early commitment.
“This is exactly the kind of leadership we need to get the global fight against preventable disease back on track,” said Tom Hart, the president at the ONE Campaign, in a statement.
Others agreed that the Global Fund pledge and proposals on global health security are significant but found less to admire in other global health-related accounts.
“While we applaud these contributions, in light of COVID-19 disruptions to essential health services and stalled progress across a range of global health priorities, the President’s proposed FY23 budget disappointingly provides mostly flat funding or cuts to a range of bilateral accounts and critical multilateral agencies, like WHO [the World Health Organization] and UNICEF,” Elisha Dunn-Georgiou, the president and CEO at Global Health Council, wrote to Devex.
“This moment requires a global health budget with ambition and vision, and unfortunately this proposal comes up short,” she added.
Speaking to reporters Monday, Paloma Adams Allen — USAID’s deputy administrator for management and resources — said the White House request includes $1.7 billion for the agency’s operational expenses and would enable USAID to hire for an additional 100 foreign service positions and 100 civil service positions.
The addition of more career USAID officials — particularly contracting officers — is seen as a key part of the agency’s current effort to direct more resources to local organizations.
The budget request also calls for $6.5 billion in mandatory funding for the State Department and USAID over five years “to make transformative investments in pandemic and other biological threat preparedness globally in support of U.S. biodefense and pandemic preparedness strategies and plans.”
In response to a question from Devex, Brian McKeon, the U.S. deputy secretary of state for management and resources, declined to specify how this funding would be used and said that the Office of Management and Budget will be “putting out more details in the next day or two.”
Notably, the White House budget does not mention USAID’s Initiative for Global Vaccine Access, which was aimed at aiding in the transition from supplying lower-income countries with COVID-19 vaccines to helping those nations increase their vaccination rates.
Funding for that initiative is included in a COVID-19 emergency funding package for fiscal 2022, which is “still pending” congressional approval, McKeon said.
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Devex has previously reported on concerns that the response to Russia’s war on Ukraine could see donor governments, including the United States, divert resources from humanitarian, development, and global health funding to military spending. The entire proposed budget for the State Department and USAID is less than Biden’s requested increase for the Department of Defense, which is $69 billion over 2021 spending levels.Previous