Yesterday, the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs held a budget hearing on the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the primary agency in the government responsible for dispensing humanitarian aid and assisting global development efforts.
As Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin notes, one moment of the hearing provided a particularly startling fact about H.R. 1, the House Republicans’ bill for continuing appropriations to fund the government. USAID administrator Rajiv Shah explained to Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) that the agency was committed to its mission of battling global poverty, but that H.R. 1 would severely gut its ability to battle easily preventable deaths among children — and even lead to the deaths of as many as 70,000 kids globally. Dent, apparently unmoved by Shah’s testimony, immediately asked to change the subject:
SHAH: We estimate, and I believe these are very conservative estimates, that H.R. 1 would lead to 70,000 kids dying. Of that 70,000, 30,000 would come from malarian control programs that would have to be scaled back, specifically. The other 40,000 is broken out as 24,000 who would die because of a lack of support for immunizations and other investments, and 16,000 would be because of the lack of skilled attendants at birth. [...] There’s a way to do this that doesn’t have to cost lives. [...]
DENT: Can I just quickly change subjects?
H.R. 1 includes a $120 million funding cut to USAID’s annual budget, which amounts to a 9 percent cutback. Additionally, the bill would cut 30 percent from development assistance, 10 percent from global health and child survival programs, and a 29 percent cut from the Millennium Challenge Corporation. When viewed next to the deep cuts to Head Start and other domestic programs related to children, it appears that the right isn’t just waging war against kids at home, but kids all over the world — balancing budgets on their backs due to a recession they played no part in.