History tells us that the United States’ essential role in world affairs is grounded in its ability to foster deep and lasting ties between Americans and the world’s present and future leaders. We have been doing this with tremendous success for some 75 years, thanks to the U.S. government’s public and citizen diplomacy programs. However, more must be done to explain why exchanges are vital, especially in this globalized and interconnected world. In short, we need a dialogue with the American public and our elected leaders, to talk about how our country’s indelible global role depends on their support and understanding. Lawmakers need to understand that investing in public and citizen diplomacy programs is one of the most powerful ways we can face global challenges head on. It is an investment that helps the economy, ensures our security, and enhances American leadership.
When continuing resolutions are in place, federal government agencies are prohibited from engaging in new activities or signing new contracts; in short, they may only do in the future what they had done in the past!
The U.S. Congress will fund our government for about two months, up until December 11, 2014. Support for the U.S. Department of State’s educational and cultural exchange programs will remain static and unchanged (totaling about $568 million).
Congress passed its funding legislation (known as a Continuing Resolution) to ensure the government would maintain its ability to operate for the weeks after the November 2014 election cycle. H.J.RES.124, as the legislation is called, passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 391 in favor to 108 against, and the Senate by a margin of 78-22, becoming Public Law 113-76 after President Obama signed the bill into law. Continuing Resolutions are designed to be temporary funding measures which merely serve to avoid a government shutdown. Though in theory temporary in nature, such laws now typify the way in which the budget process unfolds in the United States. When continuing resolutions are in place, federal government agencies are prohibited from engaging in new activities or signing new contracts; in short, they may only do in the future what they had done in the past!
Congressmen and Senators will return to Washington on November 12, for 14 days. They are expected to either pass an extension of the current Congressional Resolution or approve a spending bill to cover the remaining nine or so months in the current fiscal year. Sources suggest that House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) are working on consolidating the twelve unfinished spending bills into one omnibus package which Congress could vote on or approve, following the 2014 mid-term elections.
This would give Republicans more time to shape FY15 and FY16 spending bills based on their priorities.
The course of action may change depending on the outcome of the midterm elections, said Mark Overmann, Deputy Director at the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange. “If the Democrats hold their Senate majority, an omnibus is likely to be passed by the end of the year. And it would likely keep funding levels similar to FY14. But if Republicans win the Senate, we might see another CR that extends into far next year. This would give Republicans more time to shape FY15 and FY16 spending bills based on their priorities.”
Everyone who knows anything about international exchanges only has praise for the Global Ties network and the outstanding work we do. In these times, we must explain why exchanges really matter to ordinary Americans. It starts with cultivating long-term relationships with our elected officials from our home states. We will update you on developments as they happen and together we will speak with a unified voice. If you have any questions or comments related to our work showcasing the impact of the Global Ties network to your elected officials, you can contact me at DBremer@globaltiesus.org.