Final CR for FY 2011 has $8.4 Billion Cuts for State Dept Request, Tire Tracks Almost Everywhere Except DOD Gets $5 Billion More

Here’s the press statement from the House Appropriations chairman on April 12:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The final Continuing Resolution (CR) legislation for fiscal year 2011 unveiled today by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers contains historic spending cuts of nearly $40 billion, and will provide funding to keep the federal government operating for the remainder of the fiscal year. The passage of the bill in the House and Senate will mark the end of an arduous and long-overdue budget process initiated by the failure of the previous Democrat-controlled Congress to pass a budget or enact a single one of the 12 annual Appropriations bills last year.                   

“Never before has any Congress made dramatic cuts such as those that are in this final legislation. The near $40 billion reduction in non-defense spending is nearly five times larger than any other cut in history, and is the result of this new Republican majority’s commitment to bring about real change in the way Washington spends the people’s money,” Chairman Rogers said.

“My committee went line-by-line through agency budgets this weekend to negotiate and craft deep but responsible reductions in virtually all areas of government. Our bill targets wasteful and duplicative spending, makes strides to rein in out-of-control federal bureaucracies, and will help bring our nation one step closer to eliminating our job-crushing level of debt.” Chairman Rogers continued.


The House has put out a summary of the final cuts. And this is just the start.

Overall Spending Limit: The final CR will include a total of $1.049 trillion in funding, a nearly $40 billion reduction from last year’s (fiscal year 2010) levels. This includes the $12 billion in reductions previously approved by Congress and signed into law under the previous three continuing resolutions, as well as nearly $28 billion in additional new spending cuts.

Apparently, the White House has agreed to reduce the State Department and foreign operations budgets for the rest of fiscal year 2011 by $8.4 billion as part of the deal that avoided the government shutdown last week.

State and Foreign Operations: The funding level for the State Department and Foreign Operations in the CR is a total of $48.3 billion – a $504 million reduction from last year’s level and an $8.4 billion reduction from the President’s fiscal year 2011 request.

This section of the legislation includes a prohibition on pay raises for foreign services officers, a $377 million cut to U.S. contributions to the United Nations and international organizations, and a $130 million cut to international banks and financial institutions. In addition, the bill reduces family planning activities by $73 million – and includes a reduction in the UN Population Fund to fiscal year 2008 levels. The bill also maintains pro-life policy provisions carried in fiscal year 2010.

Family planning! Oh, why am I not surprised by that?

Look at the DOD, DOS and USAID funding and tell me this is not going to bust the myth of that three-legged stool of American foreign policy.  Perhaps now we can stop talking about the 3Ds as if it means anything? Defense matter. Diplomacy and Development, sometimes also matter, but not so much during wartime, and not so much when there’s a peace dividend.  But like I said, this is not even the main event, yet.

The Cable’s Josh Rogin
notes today that House Foreign Affairs Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), called for the elimination of over a dozen State Department and foreign aid programs. She also pledged to “fight “locality pay” increases for Foreign Service officers and recommended cutting off assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces, the West Bank and Gaza, the Asia Foundation, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and the East-West Center.” 

It looks like she may get her wishes and some this week …

If you read through the program list here, you will see the cuts compared to the enacted amounts in FY2010 and cuts compared to the FY2011 requests.  Minuses run wild, and this was the small fight. I’ve also read through the text of the final CR but have not been able to find the exact language of the “prohibition on pay raises” included in that summary.  Since the HFAC chairwoman consider the OCP a pay increase, that may well be what is referred to here. Or it could refer to step increases or something altogether different, I can’t say. You’ll have to wait for AFSA’s folks to interpret this.    
 

To view the text of the Final Continuing Resolution, read here.

Below is a summary on DOD and DHS funding:

Defense Funding: The Department of Defense is funded at $513 billion in the CR – approximately $5 billion above last year – providing the necessary resources for the safety of our troops and the success of our nation’s military actions. The bill also includes an additional $157.8 billion for overseas contingency operations (emergency funding) to advance our missions abroad.

The Defense section of this legislation includes $126.7 billion for military personnel, providing for 1,432,400 active duty and 846,200 reserve troops. In addition, the bill contains a total of $165.6 billion for operations and maintenance, $102.1 billion for procurement, $75 billion for research and development, and $31.4 billion for Defense health programs. This legislation eliminates all Defense earmark account funding, a cut of $4.2 billion from last year’s level.

Homeland Security: A total of $41.8 billion in discretionary funding is provided for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for fiscal year 2011. This is $784 million, or 2%, below FY 2010, and $1.9 billion, or 4%, below the President’s fiscal year 2011 request. All critical frontline operations for DHS – including Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Transportation Security Agency, the Coast Guard, and the Secret Service are sufficiently funded to meet mission requirements and sustain staffing levels.

This includes funding for 21,370 Border Patrol agents, 33,400 ICE detention beds, and military pay and allowances for the U.S. Coast Guard. The bill reduces CBP’s Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology (BSFIT) account to the President’s request, reduces FEMA first responder grants by $786 million, eliminates $264 million in funding that was previously targeted to earmarks, and rescinds $557 million in unobligated and lapsed balances from prior year funds. The bill also caps the amount of TSA screener personnel at 46,000. The bill also includes $1.05 billion in additional discretionary funding (for a total of $2.65 billion, including current funds) for the costs of existing and expected disasters for fiscal year 2011.

Congress still has to pass this bill, but it is almost certain to pass given that they have shook hands on this.

Say, just curious — how much are we going to save if we bring home the troops from Germany? The Cold War is done, what exactly are we still doing in Europe? Japan? I sometimes wonder if we have anyone left in Congress with carbon steel balls to actually trim the runaway military budget?  Oh, but we’re in the middle of three wars, and two unnamed ones. It would have been political hara kiri to say out loud any significant DOD cuts in the past ten years.

Betcha in 2025, it would still be like jumping off the political high bridge to talk of cuts from any defense spending. The more things change, the more things stay the same …. now I understand why Charlie is popular.

  

Related items:

4.12.11 Summary – Final FY 2011 CR  Document

4.12.11 Program Cuts List – Final FY 2011… Document

 

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Career Diplomacy | Life and Work in the Foreign Service, 2nd Edition – Now Out

Career Diplomacy: Life and Work in the U.S. Foreign Service, Second Edition by Harry W. Kopp and Charles A. Gillespie is now out.

“Career Diplomacy—now in its second edition—is an insider’s guide that examines the foreign service as an institution, a profession, and a career. Harry W. Kopp and Charles A. Gillespie, both of whom had long and distinguished careers in the foreign service, provide a full and well-rounded picture of the organization, its place in history, its strengths and weaknesses, and its role in American foreign affairs. Based on their own experiences and through interviews with over 100 current and former foreign service officers and specialists, the authors lay out what to expect in a foreign service career, from the entrance exam through midcareer and into the senior service—how the service works on paper, and in practice.”

It’s probably the best book out there to give you just the right flavor of foreign service life and work.

Quick notes on the authors:

Harry Koppis a former foreign service officer and consultant in international trade. Kopp was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for international trade policy in the Carter and Reagan administrations. His foreign assignments included Warsaw and Brasília. He received meritorious and superior honor awards from the Department of State and a meritorious service award from President Reagan. Kopp left the foreign service in 1985. He is now president of Harry Kopp, LLC, a consulting company, and Venture Factors, Inc., a division of Zabaleta and Company. Kopp has published in The New York Times and many other publications. He also wrote Commercial Diplomacy and the National Interest (American Academy of Diplomacy and the Business Council for International Understanding, 2004). More information about Mr. Kopp can be found at: www.HarryKopp.com.

Tony Gillespie } Charles A. Gillespie entered the foreign service in 1965 and retired in 1995. His career included assignments as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs; American ambassador to Grenada, Colombia, and Chile, and Special Assistant to the President on the National Security Council Staff. He received meritorious and superior honor awards from the State Department. After retiring, Gillespie joined The Scowcroft Group, a consulting company. He was a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy, the Business Council for International Understanding, and the Forum for International Policy. Gillespie passed away March 7, 2008. (Read his obituary in the Boston Globe or the LA Times ).


A good description of the book contents is here.

Q&A is also available here. Includes some interesting nuggets like those posted below:

How do you “manage up”?

Answer: In the foreign service or any other hierarchy, you want to make the boss look good. Managing up means giving the boss what the boss wants, adapting to the boss’s style, and making his or her work easier, more effective, and less time-consuming.

A personal example: My first day on the job as deputy chief of mission at a large embassy, the ambassador told me my role. “It’s your job to know what I’m doing and thinking,” he said, “but it’s not my job to tell you.” He was telling me to manage up.

Why do consular officers still get looked down upon by some other cones?

Answer: I am tempted to put up some bumf denying this in-house snobbery, but the truth is that within the foreign service, the political cone enjoys the most prestige, the consular and management cones the least. Political work is generally considered more glamorous, not because it is conducted in the swank capitals of Europe (where in fact its prestige is in decline), but because foreign service officers themselves consider it more tightly linked to issues of national security and high policy than other foreign service work. The political cone produces the most ambassadors.
More information about Career Diplomacy, Second Edition can be found at the Georgetown University Press’s website at http://press.georgetown.edu/book/georgetown/career-diplomacy

Check out the book’s website here.

US Mission Afghanistan: CODEL Wittman 03.26.2011

U.S. Ambassador Hans Klemm and U.S. Representatives Rob Wittman (R-VA), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Larry Kissell (D-NC), Scott Rigell (R-VA) and Todd Young (R-IN) visit the Supreme Court of Afghanistan in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, March 26, and have breakfast with Afghan Parliamentarians on Sunday, March 27, 2011.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
Photos from US Embassy Kabul/Flickr


Officially In: James H. Thessin to Asuncion

Map of ParaguayImage via WikipediaOn April 7, President Obama announced his intent to nominate James H. Thessin to be Ambassador to the Republic of Paraguay. The WH released the following brief bio:

James Thessin is a career member of the Senior Executive Service and has served as a Deputy Legal Adviser at the Department of State since 1990.  Prior to this assignment, Mr. Thessin served at  the Department of State as the Assistant Legal Adviser for Management, the Assistant Legal Adviser for Human Rights and Refugee Affairs, and an Attorney-Advisor for Political Military Affairs.  Before joining the Department in 1982,  Mr. Thessin served as an attorney for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Federal Trade Commission.   

Mr. Thessin received an A.A. at Father Judge Mission Seminary, an A.B. from Catholic University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.


Active links added above. If confirmed, Mr. Thessin would succeed Liliana Ayalde who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in June 2008 as U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay.

Related items:
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 4/7/2011
Why the Legacy Tours? Rutherford B. Hayes Memorial BP Station | December 30, 2008


Ayesh, Former US Embassy Baghdad Employee Gets 42 Months in Prison

In October last year, we blogged about Osama Esam Saleem Ayesh, a 36 year old Jordanian national employed by the US Department of State at the US Embassy in Baghdad who was charged with Theft of Public Funds and Conflict of Interest. He was arrested as he got off the plane in Dulles on his way to attend a DOS training course in Arlington, Virginia. (see Osama Esam Saleem Ayesh: US Emb Baghdad Local Employee Charged with Theft of Public Funds and Conflict of Interest).  

On April 8, an announcement of his sentencing from the DOJ press shop:

Former Employee of U.S. Embassy in Baghdad Sentenced to 42 Months in Prison for Stealing Nearly $250,000

WASHINGTON—A former employee of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., to 42 months in prison for stealing nearly $250,000 intended for the payment of shipping and customs services for the embassy, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Osama Esam Saleem Ayesh, 36, was also ordered to pay $243,416 in restitution and a $5,000 fine, as well as to serve three years of supervised release following his prison term. A federal jury convicted Ayesh on two counts of theft of public money and one count of engaging in acts affecting a personal financial interest. Ayesh was arrested at Dulles International Airport on Aug. 16, 2010, and indicted on Oct. 15, 2010, on the charges for which he was convicted.

Ayesh, a resident of Jordan, was hired by the Department of State as a shipping and customs supervisor at the embassy in Baghdad, who oversaw the shipments of personal property of embassy officials and personnel in Iraq. His duties required that he maintain close contact with local Iraqi companies and vendors with expertise in clearing goods through Iraqi customs. As a State Department employee, Ayesh was aware that he would be subject to the conflict of interest laws of the United States that prohibit government employees from using their position for personal profit.

According to court records, Ayesh used his State Department computer to create a phony e-mail account in the name of a real Iraqi contractor and used that e-mail account to impersonate the contractor in communications with embassy procurement officials. He also established a bank account in Jordan under his wife’s name to further his criminal scheme and falsified wire transfer instructions that directed U.S. government electronic funds transfers to that account.

Court records and evidence at trial showed that Ayesh was personally involved in establishing and operating blanket purchase agreements for the provision of customs clearance and delivery services to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. From November 2008 to June 2010, Ayesh submitted false invoices in the name of an Iraqi contractor—which Ayesh fabricated on blank stationery he kept in his embassy apartment—and caused the U.S. Department of State to wire $243,416 to his wife’s account in Jordan.

This case was prosecuted by David Laufman of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, who is on detail to the Department of Justice from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas McQuillan of the Eastern District of Virginia. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance in this matter. The case was investigated by special agents of the State Department’s Office of Inspector General and the FBI’s Washington Field Office.


Ecuador: The Tit for Tat Explusion Not Over Yet — What’s Next? Ay! Mucho Bananas….

'Cavendish' bananas are the main commercial cu...Image via WikipediaA new wrinkle in the US-Ecuador worsening relations after the diplomatic expulsions of the US  ambassador in Quito and the Ecuadorian ambassador in Washington, D.C. last week. On April 8, Reuters reported that “Ecuador’s leftist President Rafael Correa on Friday accused the U.S. embassy of spying on the country’s police and military, adding the espionage was a factor in his expulsion this week of the U.S. ambassador.”

“The serious thing is that WikiLeaks said they (the U.S. embassy) have informants in the police and armed forces … This is espionage,” Correa said in a radio interview, adding the embassy had a duty to inform his government if it had evidence of a crime, but had not done so.
[…]
Correa acknowledged there is corruption in the police force and said his government is striving to stamp it out.

“The serious issue is that if they have information from inside the police, instead of letting the government know … they say nothing, and they try to involve the country’s President,” he said in the radio interview.

Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said on Wednesday the decision to expel Hodges was made to defend Correa’s honor, even though trade ties with the United States might suffer.

Ecuador’s former foreign minister José Ayala Lasso  understood the duties of foreign representatives better and told IPS that he would have done things differently:

[T]wo specific factors: that ambassadors have an obligation to inform their government of everything they see in the country to which they have been posted, which they must do in an objective, in-depth manner.

“That is an obligation recognised by international law, and their reports are written for private use by their governments, not for international publication,” he said.

The other factor is that the leaked cable “refers to an issue that is very serious in Ecuador: police corruption.”

Also last week, China’s Xinhua reported that President Correa had downplayed the economic impact of the non-renewal of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act  (ATPDEA).

Correa reportedly said if the United States canceled the ATPDEA due to the current diplomatic impasse, the impact on Ecuador’s economy would only be less than 23 million U.S. dollars for the taxes, which is something the nation “can perfectly afford.”

The report noted that ATPDEA benefits Ecuador with the duty free entrance of 750 products to the United States. The agreement expired on Feb. 12 and is currently under review in the Congress.

President Correa was also quoted as saying, “The country’s dignity” is before the Atpdea, in response to concerns of the nation’s business circles that Quito’s expel of the U.S. ambassador could bring negative effects on the country’s commerce.

Note that the renewal of Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act  (ATPDEA) has so far made no ripple in the news this side of the world.  As of this weekend, there were exactly 11 news items related to  ATPDEA and most of them concerns Colombia.

The Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) was enacted in December 1991, to help four Andean countries (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru) in their fight against drug production and trafficking by expanding their economic alternatives.

The Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA), enacted on August 6, 2002, renewed and amended the ATPA to provide duty-free treatment for certain products previously excluded under the ATPA.  

According to the USTR, Ecuador is currently our 42nd largest goods trading partner with $9.2 billion in total (two way) goods trade during 2009. Goods exports totaled $3.9 billion; Goods imports totaled $5.3 billion. The U.S. goods trade deficit with Ecuador was $1.3 billion in 2009.

Besides the US ambassador’s expulsion, an act that Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino called defending the presidential honor, President Correa himself, cited the importance of “the country’s dignity” before the ATPDEA.

Okay, but what else is going on over there besides the tit for tat headlines, and allegations of espionage?  In a few weeks, a referendum on a proposed set of constitutional changes which critics argued were really aimed at tightening Correa’s grip on the country’s institutions is also on. Read here and here.

The bad yanquis — always a reliable punching bag, rain or shine, but more so during referendums and elections.

Anyway, since ATPDEA seems to be in the news over there, perhaps we should look at our trade stuff with Ecuador (data from USTR):

Exports

  • Ecuador was the United States’ 41st largest goods export market in 2009.
  • U.S. goods exports to Ecuador in 2009 were $3.9 billion, up 13.8% ($477 million) from 2008, and up 229% from 1994 (the year prior to Uruguay Round).
  • The top export categories (2-digit HS) in 2009 were: Mineral Fuel (oil) ($1.0 billion), Machinery ($962 million), Electrical Machinery ($288 million), Plastic ($227 million), and Vehicles ($216 million).
  • U.S. exports of agricultural products to Ecuador totaled $223 million in 2009. Leading categories include: coarse grains ($59 million), soybean meal ($30 million), and wheat ($28 million).

Imports

  • Ecuador was the United States’ 41st largest supplier of goods imports in 2009.
  • U.S. goods imports from Ecuador totaled $5.3 billion in 2009, a 41.7% decrease ($3.8 billion) from 2008, but up 205% over the last 15 years.
  • The five largest import categories in 2009 were: Mineral Fuel (crude) ($3.5 billion) Edible Fruit and Nuts (bananas, plantains) ($485 million), Fish and Seafood (shrimp and prawns) ($483 million), Cocoa ($184 million), and Live Trees and Plants (cut flowers-roses) ($119 million).
  • U.S. imports of agricultural products from Ecuador totaled $927 million in 2009. Leading categories include: bananas and plantains ($437 million), cocoa beans ($172 million), and nursery products and cut flowers ($119 million).


If this diplomatic tit for tat gets worse, the export/import sector may become collateral damage. 

 
Related items:

Fifth Report to the Congress on the Operation of the Andean Trade Preference Act as Amended

CRS: ATPA Renewal: Background and Issues | January 21, 2011