• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • A Billion Here, a Billion There: The State Department's Wacky Budget Process

    Even by U.S. government standards (not a high one these days), the State Department’s budget process is a mess.

    In almost every budget cycle, billions and billions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars get allocated to the State Department in the last minute without proper congressional debate or substantive hearings.

    As a consequence, opaqueness and bureaucratic confusion characterizes the agency that runs U.S. embassies and its diplomatic corps, conducts international negotiations, oversees international aid, pursues arms control negotiations, and funds U.S. international broadcasting, membership in international organizations, refugee policy, and much besides.

    To their credit, House Republicans are trying to do something about this indefensible state of affairs. The House Foreign Affairs Committee on June 26 announced plans to start work on a State Department Authorization Bill for fiscal year (FY) 2013.

    Over the past 15 years, only twice have State Department Authorization bills made it to the President’s desk and gotten signed into law—once under Bill Clinton (FY 1994–1995) and once under George W. Bush (FY 2002–2003). It has never happened under Barack Obama.

    Other attempts were made in FY 1998–1999, FY 2004–2005, and FY 2005–2006, and they either never made it to the President’s desk or were vetoed. The latter was the case of FY 1998–1999, when the bill actually contained a major reorganization of U.S. agencies such as the U.S. Information Agency and the Agency for Disarmament.

    State Department operations obviously do somehow get funded, even in the absence of an authorization bill. This happens through the appropriations process that takes place every fall, with 12 giant funding bills written by the congressional appropriations committees. In this process, State used to be lumped together with the Departments of Justice and Commerce. In other words, the appropriations process is no time for finesse, hearings, or deliberation on policy priorities.

    Kudos to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and its chairman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for taking seriously its responsibility in writing the U.S. budget. This kind of budget and policy coordination is sorely missed in today’s Washington.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to A Billion Here, a Billion There: The State Department's Wacky Budget Process

    1. KJinAZ says:

      You mean the Clinton/Obama slush fund. They could move hundreads of billions in this budget. We have already seen the evidence. Remember the $1.5 billion we gave to the Muslim Brotherhood recently? Tell me where they had that much money budgeted to give away to a KNOWN TERRORIST ORGANIZATION?

    2. Bobbie says:

      thank goodness there are people who stand to do the appropriate thing. Ads will surely inform all of America the difference between disingenuous people in government control to the ingenuous. In all areas. No need to discriminate! Get rid of the two biggest factors dragging America down in America's government, the unaccountabilities and corruption at every turn. On those two alone under proper leadership, taxes will inherently decrease. The unconstitutional responsibilities government takes on at tax payers expense are the ones government is irresponsible to. Control has to get back to Americans. America has done and expects higher standards, much higher!

    3. getreal says:

      Of all departments, State should be most scrutinized and should be thoroughly audited and exposed. Marxism and other totalitarianism practices are nurtured within State. A complete expose of how taxpayer monies are spent in State – like the Federal Reserve- would, no doubt horrify all of us!

    4. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Everett Dirksen said it: "A billion here, a billion there, and soon you're talking about serious money."

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×