State Department denounces proposed budget cuts

AP News
Posted: May 18, 2012 2:42 PM
State Department denounces proposed budget cuts

The State Department says deep cuts to its budget proposed by Congress will damage America's security and global leadership as well as prove costly to taxpayers in the long run.

Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Friday that a bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee was "unworkable" and appealed to lawmakers to reconsider.

The full House is not expected to vote on the bill until the summer, but Nuland's comments came as the chamber passed a defense spending proposal that abandons a deficit-cutting agreement that President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans backed last summer. The White House has threatened to veto the defense bill.

The State Department bill, passed by the Appropriations Committee in a voice vote on Thursday, would provide $40.1 billion for foreign operations, about $6 billion below what Obama requested for next year.

The legislation amounts to a cut of $2 billion from the current level, and Nuland said the proposal would "undermine" U.S. global development and diplomacy efforts and actually be more expensive over time.

The "funding cuts for diplomacy and development damage our national security and force America to face higher costs over the long term from unresolved conflicts, transnational crime, poverty and other cross-border threats," she said.

"At a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges worldwide, a decrease of nearly 10 percent from current ... levels will undermine America's effort to break cycles of violence and conflict and mitigate crises in the darkest corners of the world," Nuland said.

Reflecting the Republican-led House, the bill reinstates the global gag rule that bars U.S. aid to groups that promote or perform abortion and bans funds for the U.N. Population Fund on international family planning.

It also cuts funding for the United Nations _ eliminating entirely all money for the UN scientific and cultural agency _ and international development banks. The bill imposes conditions on aid to the Palestinian Authority and Egypt while increasing money for Jordan.

The bill maintains aid to Israel and Egypt but denies $800 million requested for a special fund for training and equipping Pakistan's military in counterinsurgency tactics. That reflects the continued frustration with Pakistan's help in the fight against terrorism and the lingering doubts after Osama bin Laden was killed deep inside the country in May 2011.


Associated Press writer Donna Cassata contributed to this report.