Policy Update

Final US appropriations bill for FY 2020 includes increases for foreign assistance

The US' omnibus spending bill, which finally passed Congress and was signed into law for Fiscal Year 2020, saw small increases for US foreign assistance but -- unusually -- at rates below what both the US House and Senate had originally passed. Overall, the spending totaled US$54.7 billion, which is US$467 million above the levels of Fiscal Year 2019, or a 1% increase. Domestic programs as a whole, however, increased by about 5%.

Global health saw increases for the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria's latest replenishment, although family planning resources remained flat and no language was ultimately included to remove the Mexico City policy restrictions. Women and children's initiatives also received funding and support.

Originally scheduled to open on October 1, 2019, the bill now allows the new US Development Finance Corporation to open its doors with a US$299 appropriation, although two thorny issues remain unfixed: methods for scoring equity investments and the use of fees to offset operating expenses. The bill also contains US$300 million for the Countering Chinese Influence Fund, and there is specific language included to better ensure that funding for Central America is actually spent. There is also some additional oversight language to ensure spending is in line with what Congress has appropriated, although the provisions are not as strong as what the House originally passed. Finally, there is also a new requirement for congressional notification for any action taken as a result of the Administration's yet-to-be-finalized foreign assistance review.  

News article - Devex