Amid the growing threat of the Islamic State group, a trouble-making Russia and the influx of Central American children flooding the southern border last year, President Barack Obama is calling for the State Department budget to be increased to $50.3 billion, a 6 percent jump from last year. The budget includes $3.5 billion to counter the Islamic State, $1 billion to address the root causes of migration from Central America and more than $38 billion in foreign aid.
Within that sum, Obama also wants to spend $75 million on military aid to Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia to “counter Russian aggression.” A State Department official said this is the first time since the Cold War that money is being requested for that explicit purpose. The requests are part of a $640 million proposal for foreign military aid, with the other recipients being Pakistan ($265 million), Iraq ($250 million) and Jordan ($50 million.) The president’s proposed $50.3 million State Department budget is just the starting point in negotiations with Congress.
Obama’s plan also includes $1 billion “to address the root causes of migration from Central America, including the migration of unaccompanied children.” The sudden crisis last year led to tens of thousands of Central Americans crossing the southern border and strained Homeland Security Department resources.
Another $3.5 billion is earmarked “to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and respond to the crisis in Syria, bolster regional security and provide for related humanitarian needs.” ISIL is the administration’s name for the Islamic State group, which also used to go by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.
The majority of the proposed budget is allocated for foreign assistance. Nearly $38 billion is being requested for that purpose, according to another State Department official. The figure represents a 3 percent increase from last year. The remaining $16.6 billion is for “diplomatic engagement,” including $8.6 billion for diplomatic and consular programs and $2.2 billion for embassy security, construction and maintenance. Of that $2.2 billion, $1.4 billion is for “worldwide security upgrades.”