Dear Mrs. Ferdjani:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the federal funding for international affairs. I appreciate hearing from you and appreciate the opportunity to respond. I traveled to West Africa in May, 2011, and visited Benin. I had several productive meetings with government officials, including President Yayi. It is a beautiful place, and I am thankful for hospitality I was shown there.
Throughout my service in the U.S. Senate, I have consistently supported effective federal funding for meritorious international programs that strengthen our national security, foster economic and political stability globally, bolster our allies, and fight the spread of disease, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. On December 7, 2009, I joined 57 of my Senate colleagues in sending a letter to President Obama requesting that his FY2011 budget proposal include funding for international affairs. On July 29, 2010, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved S.3676, the FY2011 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. This legislation would provide more than $54 billion, which is about $2 billion less than President Obama requested for FY2011, but over $5 billion more than the FY2010 enacted funding level. S.3676 expired at the conclusion of the 111th Congress and it will have to be reintroduced during the current 112th Congress.
On April 14, 2011, I voted for H.R. 1473, the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011. This compromise legislation provides $48.3 billion for international affairs, which is an 11 percent decrease from the Fiscal Year 2010 level. H.R. 1473 passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and it was signed into law by President Obama on April 15, 2011.
While I understand the importance of international assistance programs, I also am very aware that the federal government must be a better steward of your tax dollars. With the increasing deficits and ballooning national debt, every federal program must be scrutinized for wasteful spending. As we discuss the budget for Fiscal Year 2012, I will work to ensure that the United States invests in only the most effective programs, both domestically and abroad. I will work with my colleagues on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to shape a fiscally responsible international assistance budget. Rest assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind as I work on issues related to foreign assistance.
Thank you again for contacting me. Please visit my webpage at http://isakson.senate.gov/ for more information on the issues important to you and to sign up for my e-newsletter.
United States Senator
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