BIDEN Amendment to Restore International Affairs Budget to the Full Amount Passes Senate
Earlier today, the Senate successfully passed an amendment to restore the full amount of the President's request - $39.5 billion - to the international affairs budget. This amendment, sponsored by Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) and cosponsored by Ranking Member Richard G. Lugar (R-IN), passed by a vote of 73 - 23. Last week, the Budget Committee reduced the President's budget request by $4.1 billion. Sen. Biden's legislation will restore the full budget amount to allow a variety of critical non-military initiatives to continue.
"This vote sends a strong statement that we cannot rely on military power alone to make our nation secure," said Senator Biden. "We face many challenges around the world - the rise of religious fundamentalism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the spread of disease, failed states that are vectors for all those threats. Not one of them can be met solely or even primarily with military force. This legislation will allow us to continue the work now underway to rebuild Afghanistan, to support our ongoing non-proliferation programs, to provide the manpower and skills for our Civilian Stabilization Initiative, to fight AIDS - to all the things that reduce threats, relieve human suffering, and help to rebuild our moral stature in the world."
Last week, two distinguished former senior military officers, General Anthony Zinni and Admiral Leighton Smith, testified before the Foreign Relations Committee that America's priorities must be reordered to protect our national security. They called for an emphasis on "smart power" - using our nation's diplomatic and economic resources to protect our interests.
Today, for every $19 the U.S. spends on military resources, approximately one dollar goes toward the civilian programs that could prevent military action, support a balanced response to security threats, or secure the peace. The U.S. presently spends more in three weeks of military operations in Iraq than it has spent to rebuild and secure Afghanistan in the six years since September 11th, 2001.
"We can all see the result in both Iraq and Afghanistan, of not having the capabilities, the resources, or the plan, to turn military action into a sustainable peace. This amendment alone will not fix that problem. But it will keep us from making it worse."
"Our success with this amendment was in due in large part to tireless advocates of international engagement such as the ONE Campaign, InterAction, and the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign."
This amendment passed with a total of 32 cosponsors and broad bipartisan support.