IRC Applauds Proposed U.S. Budget but Fears Cuts to Key Programs
While applauding the administration’s submission this week of a federal budget that increases funding for international programs, the International Rescue Committee expressed concern over cutbacks in development and humanitarian spending. “We support the President’s initiatives,” said George Rupp, president of the IRC, “but funding for them should come on top, and not at the expense, of core development and humanitarian programs.”
The FY 2007 President’s budget was submitted to Congress on February 6. Major increases are proposed for Presidential initiatives, like the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the President’s Emergency Program for Aids Relief.
While the overall funding for refugee aid is increasing, a closer look at the budget reveals that the State Department’s plans to resettle more refugees in the United States (a goal the IRC fully supports) would come at the expense of aid to refugees overseas. Cuts are also proposed for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) budget accounts that fund development, child survival and disaster assistance programs.
“The overall increase in international funding is welcome,” said Anne C. Richard, vice president of the IRC in Washington, D.C., “but IRC will need to ask Congress to ensure that desperately needed aid is also allocated to help refugees and the displaced around the world.”
Rupp is particularly concerned that U.S. funding that used to go toward long-term programs to promote health and education in impoverished countries is being diverted to achieve short-term political objectives. “It is much better to make a small investment in development now,” Rupp said, “than to pay the costs of picking up the pieces after conflict and wars.”