By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
The U.S. House Committee on Appropriations’ move to slash the federal funding for foreign operations and international diplomacy would jeopardize Washington’s engagements in the Indo-Pacific region, U.S. Rep. Ed Case said.
The appropriations committee approved an overall funding level of $52.5 billion — a cut of $7.2 billion or 12 percent below the current fiscal year funding— for the U.S. Department of State and other related diplomatic programs.
“I am truly disappointed that an often promising and optimistic bill has succumbed to fatal flaws driven by partisan posturing and representing
outdated and frankly dangerous positions undermining our indispensable, unavoidable world leadership role,” Case said.
Case stressed that a funding increase and renewed engagement in the Indo-Pacific, specifically with the Pacific island countries call for adequate support.
“However, these are countered by deliberate underfunding of foreign assistance overall and the outright elimination of support for institutions that underpin the international rules-based order,” the congressman from Hawaii said.
The committee this week approved $1.2 billion for diplomatic engagement and $2.2 billion for assistance in support of the implementation of the Indo-Pacific Strategy to promote peace, prosperity and democracy in the region.
The bill appropriates $175 million for the Pacific island region, an increase of $25 million, but Case quipped, “Our enemies are more than happy to fill the void."
“We cannot forget that our own security depends not just on military might but on the strength of our partnerships and the stability and prosperity of our international community," Case said.
He is particularly worried about the “most egregious” proposal to slash funding for development assistance by $1.3 billion, international disaster assistance by $793 million and economic support to other nations by another $1.3 billion.
The bill cuts contributions to international organizations such as the United Nations by 82 percent.
“Defunding these real-world efforts as this proposal would do undermines our progress, our reputation, our moral authority. It is not just an abdication of our duty as international leaders, but also subverts our own strategic
interests and widens the path for others,” Case said.
“This particular proposal on balance is an unfortunate boon to those who would seek to undermine the United States’ position in the world to their own specific benefit. I sincerely hope it proves to be a blowing-off-steam moment rather than a misguided attempt at serious and consequential policy."