Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2020 Budget and Appropriations

Each year, Congress considers 12 distinct appropriations measures, including one for the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS), which includes funding for U.S. diplomatic activities, cultural exchanges, development and security assistance, and U.S. participation in multilateral organizations, among other international activities. On March 11, 2019, the Trump Administration submitted to Congress its SFOPS budget proposal for FY2020, which totaled $42.72 billion in discretionary funds ($42.88 billion when $158.9 million in mandatory retirement funds are included), reflecting adherence to discretionary funding caps, as determined by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA; P.L. 112-25).

The FY2020 request would have represented a 2.5% increase in SFOPS when compared to the FY2019 request but a 21% decrease in SFOPS funding when compared to the FY2019 enacted funding levels. Within these totals, Department of State and Related Agency funding would have been reduced by 15.7%, with the greatest cuts to the Educational and Cultural Exchange Programs (56%), International Organizations (26%), and the U.S. Agency for Global Media (22%) accounts. The Foreign Operations accounts would have seen a reduction of 23.5%, with the greatest cuts to the non-health development assistance (39%), humanitarian assistance (34%), and global health (28%) sectors.

On May 16, the House Appropriations Committee agreed to its SFOPS measure (H.R. 2839) that would have provided $56.54 billion in total spending ($56.39 billion in discretionary spending). The bill included either level or increased funding in nearly all accounts compared to FY2019. It did not include the President’s proposal to consolidate spending into the proposed Economic Support and Development Fund (ESDF) and International Humanitarian Assistance (IHA) accounts, and moved the Economic Support Fund (ESF) account from Title III (Bilateral Economic Assistance) into Title IV (International Security Assistance) to make clear the committee’s desire to keep ESF distinct from the Development Assistance (DA) account. Finally, the bill would have provided funds to make operational the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (pursuant to the BUILD Act of 2018; P.L. 115-254). On June 19, 2019, the House passed the FY2020 SFOPS legislation in a “minibus” measure that included three other appropriations bills—Labor, Health and Human Services, Education; Defense; and Energy and Water Development (H.R. 2740). While the topline funding level remained the same, some monies were shifted among the various accounts due to adopted amendments.

On September 26, 2019, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its SFOPS measure for FY2020, S. 2583, which would have provided $55.16 billion in total new funding ($54.377 billion net, after proposed rescission of $316 million of prior-year funds). Much like the House measure, the bill included level or increased funding for most accounts compared to FY2019 and did not include the President’s proposals to consolidate spending into the ESDF and IHA accounts. However, unlike the House bill, the Senate committee measure kept ESF in Title III (Bilateral Economic Assistance), consistent with prior year appropriations.

FY2020 began with all appropriations bills unfinished. Congress and the President approved two continuing resolutions to fund federal agencies through November 21, 2019 (P.L. 116-59) and December 20, 2019 (P.L. 116-69), respectively, at the FY2019 funding level. On December 20, 2019, Congress passed, and the President later signed, two consolidated appropriations bills (P.L. 116-93 and P.L. 116-94). SFOPS funding was included as Division G of P.L. 116-94, Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020. The measure included $54.84 billion for SFOPS accounts in FY2020, a nearly 1% increase from the FY2019-enacted level and approximately 28% more than the Administration’s request. Of that enacted total, $8.0 billion, or approximately 15% was designated as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).

In March 2020, in response to the global spread of a novel coronavirus, COVID-19, Congress enacted supplemental appropriations legislation, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-123, signed into law March 6). The act included $1.25 billion in SFOPS accounts to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the virus. With these supplemental funds, total enacted SFOPS funding for FY2020 was $56.09 billion (net of rescissions), a 3.2% increase over the FY2019-enacted level.

This report provides an account-by-account comparison of the FY2020 SFOPS request, House and Senate SFOPS legislation, and the final FY2020 SFOPS appropriation to FY2019 funding in Appendix A. The International Affairs (function 150) budget in Appendix B provides a similar comparison.

This report will not be updated further unless there is renewed congressional activity on FY2020 appropriations.