What Exactly Does the International Affairs Budget Pay For?

What Exactly Does the International Affairs Budget Pay For?


Now that the President’s budget outline has been released and we know the rumors of deep proposed cuts to foreign assistance are true, it’s time for us as advocates to step up and fight like never before.  The proposal calls for slashing the State Department and USAID by 28 percent, and cutting overall foreign assistance by over 31 percent.  As Michelle Nunn, CARE’s president and CEO said in response to this budget, these cuts “are staggering. In fact, they could be deadly.”

Just how deadly?  The United Nations says that because we’re facing famine conditions in four countries simultaneously (something the world has never seen before), more than 20 million lives are at risk over the next six months.  In addition, more than 65 million people are displaced globally and 30,000 more are forced to flee their homes every day due to conflict, drought, famine, violence and other calamities.  For our part, CARE reached 80 million people in the world’s poorest countries last year with programs that address hunger, climate challenges, education, economic opportunities, water, sanitation and healthcare for women, girls and communities.  Without US partnership and funding, these programs and the lives they touch would suffer incalculably. 

U.S. foreign assistance accounts for less than one percent – a mere penny -- of each U.S. budget dollar.

But what exactly does the foreign assistance budget pay for? 

It pays for a range of US strategic investments in global development and diplomacy to advance America’s interests. This includes:

  • Fighting deadly diseases and responsing to pandemics like HIV, Ebola and Zika
  • Providing humanitarian relief in the wake of disasters like the earthquake in Nepal and hurricanes in Haiti and the Philippines
  • Supporting our diplomats forging strategic partnerships with key allies
  • Boosting trade and economic development
  • Educating children, especially girls, who are the first to fall through the cracks
  • Preventing child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence
  • Helping vulnerable countries prevent and respond to disasters
  • Providing clean water and sanitation facilities in parts of the world where women and girls walk for hours to haul water and children die every day from poor sanitation
  • Helping vulnerable communities develop independence and self-sufficiency

In short, this penny saves lives, promotes American values and makes this a safer, more prosperous world for all of us.  What could be more important than that?

If you agree that this critical work must be preserved, then join us! Tell Congress that you oppose these cuts and are here to defend critical funding to fight poverty and provide humanitarian assistance.  Here’s how you can help: 

  • Join CARE Action’s Budget Briefing Call on Monday, March 20th at 8PM EST – Everyone is welcome. Call in instructions: 1-877-270-2148 *Ask to be connected to the CARE Budget Briefing Call*
  • Sign our petition and tell the President and Congress to take foreign affairs off the chopping block

Preserve the International Affairs Budget for strong and effective development and diplomacy programs that advance America’s security and economic interests and project the best of America’s values overseas. 

  • Listen to our latest podcast entitled "Bangladesh, The Budget and Journalist Syambra Moitozo" to learn more about the programs and the people who are supported by the international affairs budget.  Then share it, post it and spread the word.
  • Post on social media that you want Congress to protect foreign assistance because you know it’s #WorthThePenny.

We need all hands on deck to save this funding that saves lives. Support foreign assistance and insist that Congress represent the values, generosity and humanitarian commitment that make America a global leader. 

This budget is just a proposal.  For now.  We have the power to make sure Congress charts a different path.  With your support and determination, we’ll make sure foreign assistance gets its penny on the dollar.

Rachael Leman

Executive Director

CARE Action


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