Last week we shared how budget cuts could lead to a dramatic reduction in foreign assistance, depending on decisions that Congress makes over the upcoming week or so. On Monday, release of the President’s budget request reignited conversations about protecting critical accounts. But, these are not the decisions Congress is making right now, though they will be on their minds soon. Currently there are two budget conversations happening in D.C., one around 302(b) allocations to wrap up the budget for FY18, and the President’s proposed budget, starting the process for the FY19 budget.

We will start with the basics

302(b) Allocations: When there is news of Congress passing a budget, this typically refers to a budget resolution that determines overarching numbers. One way to think of this is if you were remodeling a home and you and your family make a decision on the total amount of money you will spend for the remodel – this would be your budget resolution.

You know that some costs are necessary and fixed, such as for permits. In the U.S. budget resolution this is considered mandatory spending, and includes programs like Social Security and Medicare. After considering the things you know you need, you must determine the amount available that is flexible – this is the 302(a). You have many options around how you can use this money. The specific amount of money you allocate to different aspects of the remodel, such as the kitchen, master bedroom, or landscaping – this is like the 302(b) allocations.

Congress allocates money between 12 subcommittees covering a wide range of things important to the American people. This includes agriculture, defense, education, energy, and foreign assistance. The State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) subcommittee is where money for foreign assistance programs lies.

The President’s Budget Request: Each year, with the first Monday in February as a target date, the President submits a budget request for the upcoming fiscal year for Congress’ consideration. This includes program specific funding levels, positions on spending, and acknowledgement of surpluses or deficits this budget could lead to. This is simply a request and does not dictate decisions that Congress makes, but it does show the priorities of the Administration and can influence the decisions that Congress makes.

Where are we now?

For the FY18 budget, currently 302(b) allocations are being debated within the appropriations committee and subcommittees in Congress. This process is designed to  lead to 12 appropriations bills, but more typical is that the final numbers will be passed within an omnibus bill. The literal translation of Omnibus is ‘for everything.’ In this case an omnibus bill will encompass the many decisions made related to the federal budget  and will finalize spending limits for individual programs. World Vision advocates have been contacting Congress during this final piece of the process to make sure funding for foreign assistance remains at FY17 levels, without any cuts.

To stay on track for FY19, the President released his budget this week. These are the numbers being debated more publicly, numbers that you may hear on the news or read articles about. There is so much in the budget it is important to highlight for your members of Congress what you care about. While this is only a request right now, it will be taken into consideration down the road as future decisions are made.

The budget process is not easy to follow, but it is incredibly important. Not engaging in this process could mean that programs proven to save lives are unfunded or that measures to help lift the vulnerable out of extreme poverty are halted.

If you are signed up for updates, you will receive a debrief of the President’s budget and what it could mean for people who live in under-resourced parts of the world. For now, continue to take action for FY18 – success in passing a budget can only be declared if American values, the strengthening of the economy and national security, and life-saving programs, are upheld – otherwise said, preserving strong foreign assistance.


  • The budget being passed boils down to lives being saved. Children’s lives! Children who do not have choices where they are born and what they are born into. It is this most needed help, along with the love of Jesus Christ, that will save these children. Every child is important in the future of the World.

    • Well spoken, Sheila! But I break out in a cold sweat when you write, “along with the love of Jesus Christ.” Jesus may be our Teacher and Savior, but let’s not forget that these refugee camps are populated by Muslims. Hence, let us say with these girls, “along with the merciful love of Allah and of his holy Prophet.”


  • During the Castro years when the ports of Cuba were blocked by US mines and warships, the Cuban people created a “peace corps” of sorts–medical doctors were being sent to remote parts of the world where healthcare was substandard and sometimes non-existent. I was impressed by this. I was impressed by Fidel Castro who supported this initiative as the Cuban gift of healthcare to future generations.

    Whatever happened to the US program known as the Peace Corps? What would it take to have a national Peace Corps exporting teachers prepared to set up schools for girls in remote areas and in refugee camps?

    But someone will rightly object, “We have areas in our inner cities and in remote areas where good schools are non-existent or substandard. Let charity begin at home.” Sure enough. And I just bet that some Cubans opposed their “peace corps” for very similar reasons.

    But let’s face it. Overwhelmingly the American people of both parties are hell bent upon maintaining our military might and our permanent military presence in trouble spots all over the world. As a result, our military budget is bigger than all other nations of the world COMBINED. As a result, we are engaged in constant wars [to justify the price tag for doing so]. Yipes!

    What if Congress would pass a bill that set up a Peace Corps for Quality Schools both here and abroad? And for funding, let the bill require that 2% of the military budget for FY2018 would be set aside for this purpose. And let the bill insure that this 2% would increase by 1% each year until such time that our war-making powers were funded to the same degree that we funded our peace-making powers. 50-50

    The hawks will not like this! But America is still somewhat of a democracy, and the voice of the people will prevail in declaring that quality education world-wide contributes significantly more to keeping Americans safe than our stockpiling of bombs and our multiplying of our military bases overseas.

    Seem impossible?

    If we lose the vision of our Founding Fathers, then nothing will change. But, here are the words of Catherine of Siena that are written on my walls and that sound in my ears: Cry out as if you have a million voices! It is silence that kills the world.

    Peace and joy in learning,

  • Both bills seek to revise changes made by the former government in an omnibus budget bill in 2012 that critics blamed for watering down environmental protections.

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