Kerry says State Department cuts under sequester would impair vital foreign missions

Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Thursday became the latest high-level official to caution against deep automatic spending cuts set to take effect in two weeks. In a letter to Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he said the reductions would “seriously impair our ability to execute our vital missions of national security, diplomacy and development.”

Kerry said in the five-page letter that the sequester would mean $2.6 billion less for State Department programs, including humanitarian aid, military assistance to U.S. allies and security for the nation’s diplomats and facilities abroad. Of that, foreign assistance could be cut by $1.7 billion and State Department operations by $850 million.

Here are some of the potential cuts:

  • $200 million from humanitarian accounts, hampering American responses to humanitarian disasters “when the world faces growing needs in Syria and its neighboring countries.”
  • $400 million from the Global Health Program, more than half from AIDS relief efforts.
  • $20 million from international peacekeeping operations, “hindering our efforts to stabilize the conflict in Mali and prevent the spread of extremism in the Sahel.”
  • $70 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development budget.
  • $300 million from foreign military financing, “potentially reducing our military assistance to Israel, Jordan and Egypt and undermining our commitment to their security at an especially volatile time.”
  • More than $400 million from economic and development assistance that helps open overseas markets and create U.S. jobs and exports.
  • Slow processing of visa applications and other documents.
Lisa Rein covers the federal workforce and issues that concern the management of government.

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Washington Post · February 14, 2013

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