NEW YORK – With billions of dollars in cuts, the U.S. bishops’ international humanitarian aid agency says the House of Representatives State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2025, could have “dire consequences” for people in need worldwide.

The House passed the appropriations bill on June 28 by a 212 to 200 vote, largely along partisan lines. The bill makes good on a promise of House Republicans to cut spending. The bill represents an 11 percent cut from Fiscal Year 2024 enacted levels – roughly $7.6 billion.

The bill is also 19 percent – roughly $12.26 billion – below the President’s Budget Request.

“We are disappointed in the disproportionately low allocation provided to the State and Foreign Operations subcommittee for Fiscal Year 2025,” Bill O’Keefe, the Catholic Relief Services Vice President for Mission, Mobilization and Advocacy said in a July 1 statement. “We are further alarmed by the steep cuts to life-saving foreign assistance in the House-passed bill.”

Announcing the bill’s passage, Republican Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who is chair of the House Appropriations Committee, highlighted the bill’s prioritization of national security.

“The passage of today’s FY25 State and Foreign Operation bill takes a critical step toward ensuring Americans are safer at home and abroad. We prioritize U.S. security while reducing excessive spending,” Cole said in a June 28 statement. “The legislation upholds the values of freedom and democracy foundational to our nation and challenges the growing evil of authoritarian regimes seeking to test our resolve.”

The bill, which totals about $52 billion, pours billions into supporting Israel and countering China, and also places an emphasis on the U.S.-Mexico border. Conversely, the bill eliminates the account for the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund. It also reduces contributions to international organizations, international peacekeeping activities, the economic support fund, migration and refugee assistance, and peacekeeping operations.

“The substantial reductions to critical humanitarian and development accounts, in some cases by roughly 25 percent, would have dire consequences for millions of families facing hunger, humanitarian crises and infectious diseases,” O’Keefe said of the cuts.

The bill also eliminates 33 special envoys and special representatives at the Department of State, including the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. The bill prohibits the Treasury Department from carrying out the Biden administration’s climate agenda, and prohibits funds for the Green Climate Fund; the world’s largest climate fund addressing climate change worldwide, as well.

O’Keefe also highlights that the bill fails to invest in climate adaptation, despite the “moral, economic and security benefits” of enhancing resilience to severe weather shocks including droughts, floods, and extreme heat waves.

“In our country and worldwide, these shocks have severely impacted self-sufficiency, food production and livelihoods for the most vulnerable communities around the world,” O’Keefe said. “These impacts are projected to worsen substantially over time.”

O’Keefe added that while CRS appreciates strong funding levels for accounts such as nutrition and malaria, “deprioritizing overall humanitarian development funding is inconsistent with American values and interests.”

“The U.S. must get serious about combating global poverty by funding effective foreign assistance programs we know support people, families and communities to thrive,” O’Keefe said.

Democrats also decried the bill. When the Republicans proposals were made in early June, Democrat Barbara Lee of California, who is the ranking member for the House subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, said she was “appalled” by the cuts.

“For the sake of our national security, women’s health globally, and our response to the climate crisis, Republicans must abandon this reckless and partisan path and join Democrats at the table to govern,” Lee said in a statement.

The White House has also already threatened to veto the bill.

O’Keefe, meanwhile, said CRS stands ready to collaborate with Congress.

“We will collaborate with Congress on a bipartisan bill that robustly funds humanitarian and development programming and provides a courageous response to the challenges facing our global family,” O’Keefe said. “The U.S. has long been a force for good around the world, and CRS is committed to supporting the passage of a bill that reflects that history.”

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