Barack Obama

Eight former U.S. Secretaries of State jointly penned an op-ed in yesterday’s Politico calling for a drastic increase in U.S. global engagement:

We, former secretaries of state of different administrations and different political parties, and with differing views on many other issues, are nevertheless of one mind on this issue of critical importance to our country’s national security. We call on Congress to act accordingly and fund this critical need.

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In a brief profile published today, CQ.com noted the strong support State and Foreign Operations subcommittee chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) has long shown for diplomacy and foreign aid:

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Emphasizing the need for strong international relationships and increased person-to-person engagement, Judith McHale delivered her first speech as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs yesterday at an event sponsored by the Center for a New American Security. McHale outlined her vision of an American public diplomacy that consists of two principal functions: communication (“the air game, the radio and TV broadcasts…websites and media outreach”) and engagement (“the ground game of direct people-to-people exchanges”).

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The House Appropriations Committee moved forward in the FY 2010 funding process today, reported the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign in its International Affairs Budget Update:

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Progress through partnership and the recognition of a common humanity were two pervading themes of President Obama’s speech delivered in Cairo early this morning: “Whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.”

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A House bill to increase aid and enhance partnerships with Pakistan—originally marked up on May 20 and recently tweaked again—includes language calling for an expansion of international exchange activities with that country. The Pakistan Enduring Assistance and Cooperation Enhancement (PEACE) Act of 2009 (HR 1886) would authorize democratic, economic, and social development assistance for Pakistan, including implementation of “a more effective public diplomacy strategy in Pakistan.”

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International exchange programs drew brief focus yesterday at two Senate committee hearings focused on the FY 2010 international affairs budget. Speaking before both the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed the same enthusiasm for educational and cultural exchanges that she has consistently shown since taking office. At the State and Foreign Operations subcommittee hearing, Clinton said:

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Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced last week the Strategy and Effectiveness of Foreign Policy and Assistance Act of 2009 (H.R. 2387), a bill to require the use of long-term strategies for United States national security, diplomacy, and foreign assistance and the full use of performance-based budgeting for foreign assistance programs, projects, and activities.

At a May 13 hearing, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, challenged Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Jack Lew over funding increases proposed for State in President Obama’s FY 2010 budget submission.  The bill provides the following the rationale for the legislation:

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In order to set a tone of budget responsibility and transparency, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton enhanced her leadership team by adding a second deputy security responsible for Management and Resources. The man appointed to that role, former director of the Office of Management and Budget Jack Lew, testified at two hearings on Capitol Hill today, first in front of the House Subcommittee for State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, and later at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The purpose of Lew’s appearance before these committees was to discuss the principles and priorities that underlie President Obama’s FY 2010 international affairs budget request.

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The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the Obama Administration’s full account-level budget today. The administration’s request for Department of State educational and cultural exchange programs in FY 2010 is $633 million. This request is an increase of $95 million, or 17.7 per cent, over the estimated budget authority for FY 2009 of $538 million.

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