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Prevention Funding Slashed – Take Action!

February 23, 2011

Despite broad bipartisan recognition that investing in an ounce of prevention to avert wars is much wiser and less costly than paying a pound (or a few billion pounds) of cure after international crises erupt, the 112th Congress appears ready to pour billions more into war while slashing away at the few small investments in peaceful prevention of deadly conflict that FCNL and others have lobbied hard for in recent years. We have our work cut out for us.

House Slashes Funds to Prevent War: Last week the House passed a Continuing Resolution for FY2011 which cuts all of FCNL’s priority prevention accounts, and even zeros out funding for the United States Institute of Peace.  The House cut the Civilian Response Corps budget down t0 just $47 million in 2011 (the budget was $150 million for 2010), completely terminates the Complex Crises Fund (it had been $50 million in 2010), and slashes international peacekeeping funding by $283 million.  In addition, the House approved an amendment that zeros out funding for the bipartisan, congressionally-mandated United States Institute of Peace.  Any potential short-term savings from cutting these accounts will amount to less than a day’s worth of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but these same determined budget cutters refused to include real cuts to military spending in the bill.

What’s next for 2011 funding? The Senate will now have to pass its own version of a Continuing Resolution for FY11 funding, and the two chambers will have to reconcile the two bills by March 4 to avoid a government shutdown.  The Senate is not pursuing all the draconian cuts that the House is pushing, but pressure is on to cut anywhere possible.  FCNL is lobbying Senate appropriators to maintain funding for key prevention accounts, particularly the Complex Crises Fund, and funding for USIP.  Given how far the two chambers are from each others’ approaches, many are predicting the government will come to a standstill in March.

What about the 2012 budget? In the meantime, the President sent his FY2012 budget to Congress last week as well, and appropriators need to begin work on legislation for next year even while the FY11 budget is unsettled.  The White House has proposed continuing key accounts to help prevent wars in FY2012 at quite reasonable levels:  $92 million for the Civilian Response Corps; $75 million for the Complex Crises Fund; and meeting US contributions to the UN and for UN peacekeeping.  The Obama administration seems to understand that these relatively small investments can generate great savings by helping avert humanitarian crises and military operations.  We will be lobbying Congress to support the President’s budget for these accounts in 2012.

What can you do? Please write your senators and urge them to maintain funding for the Complex Crises Fund and US Institute of Peace in 2011.  If these programs are zeroed out or deeply cut it will be very hard to restore their funding in the future.  Sign up for our Prevent War emails to get future updates on investing in an ounce of prevention to avoid a pound of war.

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