How the Fiscal Cliff Deal Will Affect Foreign Affairs Funding

The deal is done. But what does it mean for the funding of American foreign policy priorities?

The fiscal cliff deal reached at the 11th hour calls for an income tax hike on people earning more than $400,000 and delays a series of dramatic budget cuts known as “sequestration” until March 1. Sequestration was the damaclean sword dangling above the heads of members of congress that would slash domestic and defense spending if a deal was not reached.

Even without sequestration, the fiscal cliff deal includes what amounts to a $12 billion cut to defense and non-defense spending over the next two years. $6 billion will come from the defense; $6 billion from all other discretionary accounts. So these funding cuts equate to roughly $3 billion per year for non-defense spending.  “As international affairs spending is about 10 percent of non-defense discretionary spending, the cuts would presumably be about $300 million per year if applied across the board,” says Jordie Hannum, director of the Better World Campaign.  This could mean significant cuts to the State Department budget, UN funding, international development projects, humanitarian funding and global health.

There is no guarantee that these cuts would necessarily occur proportionally across the board, but it is reasonable to extrapolate that the International Affairs budget — which currently is about $50 billion — will take a hit of several hundred millions of dollars.

Ed note. This post was updated to include a clarifying quote.