WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has called on members of the House Budget committee to increase the overall amount allocated to the fiscal year 2003 international affairs account (150 Account), which includes the U.S. foreign aid budget.
Along with a broad-based working group, the Coalition for the Preservation of U.S. Global Leadership, the ANCA is calling upon this panel to approve at least President Bush’s $25.5 billion request for the 150 Account of the federal budget. Over the past 15 years, this account has been cut by more than 35% in real terms. The larger the 150 Account, the more funds will be available for U.S. foreign aid programs, including assistance to Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh.
“The international affairs budget, the 150 Account, at less than one percent of federal spending, is critical to our leadership abroad and our ability to help further strengthen our relations with nations like Armenia,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “The integrity of this account must be carefully safeguarded to make sure that the foreign aid budget is able to meet the many pressing requirements of our foreign policy.”
In an action alert posted on the ANCA website, activists are encouraged to call or email House Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle (R-IA), Ranking Member John Spratt (D-SC), and other key members of this panel to support no less than the President’s request of $25.5 billion for the International Affairs Budget.
Reductions in the 150 Account impact the level of funds available for the U.S. aid program to Armenia, which has been hurt economically by dual Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades. According to World Bank figures, these illegal blockades are costing Armenia more between $500 and $700 million a year, close to a third of Armenia’s gross domestic product. Over the past decade, U.S. aid to Armenia has helped to offset this damage and helped to advance Armenia’s political and economic reforms.
Commenting on the importance of the 150 Account during a March 6th Budget Committee hearing with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Ranking Member Spratt noted that, “The support for function 150 starts right here in this [budget] committee. It’s not the most popular function in the budget by any means. We don’t normally, in districts like mine, send out press releases bragging about this particular function of the budget, but it is critically important.” Rep. John Sununu (R-NH) added that, “whatever we spend at [the] State [Department], whatever we spend in foreign assistance, really does serve, if we spend the money effectively, to advance our national security interests.”