21 February 2013

John Kerry Defends Aid Budget By Sticking to Obama Administration's Message

John Kerry has only held the office of US Secretary of State for a few weeks but has already made it known that foreign aid is one of his priorities.

Sec State John Kerry; Credit
Kerry says he will fight to maintain the budget of USAID and make the argument for its benefits. Hillary Clinton said much the same when she first came on board, emphasizing that the Obama Administration will build upon and expand upon the government’s established leadership in many areas of foreign aid, and especially in global health.

Didn’t happen. So what might Kerry’s rhetoric mean in reality for foreign aid?

One of the first acts by the nation’s new Secretary of State was to write a letter to Congresswoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) to warn about consequences to foreign aid and diplomacy if budget cuts are enacted through sequestration.

If a deal is not reached in Congress, the State Department and USAID will see a $2.6 billion across-the-board cut in their collective budget. “Cuts of this magnitude would seriously impair our ability to execute our vital missions of national security, diplomacy and development,” writes Kerry.

He estimates that sequestration would cost global health programs $400 million and humanitarian assistance $200 million. It comes at a time when the US is providing assistance to regions that are affected by conflict and drought such as Syria, the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. Kerry adds that the global health cuts will harm the efforts by USAID to realize an AIDS-free generation and eliminate preventable child deaths.
He adds further, “Such cuts undermine out efforts to shape the boarder international efforts to fight disease and hunger, invest in global health and foster more stable societies and regions.”
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