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Republican FY 2011 Budget Proposal To Be Introduced As Legislation Soon

On Capitol Hill this week, “Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., is expected to turn [the proposed FY 2011] budget allocation into legislative language with specific allocations for federal agencies. That bill would then be brought to the House floor, setting the stage for a lengthy debate as conservative Republicans seek larger cuts than [Rep. Paul Ryan, (R-Wis).] proposed,” according to CQ (Goldfarb, 2/4).

An AOL News analysis piece examines how the situation in Egypt has ignited a debate over U.S. foreign aid. The article notes lawmakers’ different views about foreign aid to Egypt before addressing the issue more broadly.

“A recent Gallup Poll showed foreign aid tops the list of government programs the public wants cut, with 59 percent favoring reductions. Yet most Americans vastly overestimate how much money goes to foreign aid,” the article states. “According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, foreign aid is at its highest level since the Cold War. It has risen sharply since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks after hitting an all-time low in the 1990s. While it is true that the United States is the largest international economic aid donor in absolute dollars, it is also the stingiest among major donor governments as a percentage of gross national income.”

The article quotes State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, who said, “The return on investment is extraordinary. We are not going to balance the budget by eliminating foreign assistance.” He added, “Whether helping shape strategically important countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Iraq, fighting narco-criminals in Latin America or battling HIV/AIDS in Africa, ‘we have significant national interests associated with our foreign assistance.'”

The piece also looks at the different definitions of foreign aid and notes recent calls and efforts to reform U.S. foreign aid processes (Stone, 2/5).

Reclaiming U.S. Contributions To U.N. Tax Fund Wins GOP ‘YouCut’ Vote

House Republicans will introduce legislation this week aimed at “reclaiming hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. contributions to the United Nations,” the Associated Press reports (2/4). “According to the legislation … the United Nations has owed the United States $179 million in overpayments to the U.N.’s Tax Equalization Fund since Dec. 31, 2009. [The bill] is currently scheduled for House consideration Feb. 9,” CQ reports.

“The fund was created as a way for the United States to compensate American employees of the United Nations within the country, who have to pay taxes that their foreign colleagues do not. In other words, it is a way to even out salaries,” the publication adds.

The legislation, which is Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s (R-Fla.) initiative, “won out over two other possible bills as part of the House Republican initiative known as YouCut,” CQ writes (Cadei, 2/4).

The Financial Times notes that Ros-Lehtinen, who is chair of the House foreign affairs committee, “put U.N. funding at the top of her committee’s agenda for the 2011 session, with a hearing on January 25 that prominent critics of the U.N. were invited to address” (Morris, 2/6).

But retrieving the funds might not be so easy, a State Department official said, CQ notes. “Esther Brimmer, assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, explained in an interview that the $179 million in overpayments are in the form of credits, not cash, and thus cannot be refunded per se. Moreover, Brimmer said, much of that sum – up to $100 million – already has been repurposed to help enhance security at the U.N. complex in New York City. She said the State Department intended to use the remainder of the credits to offset future U.N. dues. Brimmer also noted that the State Department had briefed Congress extensively on the matter last year,” CQ writes (2/4).