Earlier this month the White House released a proposed federal budget for fiscal year 2021. The proposed twenty one percent decrease in State Department funding is troubling. Cutting State Department funds doesn’t help the Pentagon. It hurts us.
Former Defense Secretary James Mattis said in 2013:
If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately… So I think it’s a cost-benefit ratio. The more that we put into the State Department’s diplomacy, hopefully the less we have to put into a military budget as we deal with the outcome of an apparent American withdrawal from the international scene.
This proposed budget reduces contributions to United Nations peacekeeping efforts by $447 million, and the United States’ annual contribution to the UN itself by $508 million. Further, it would eliminate discretionary funds for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and 12 other agencies that work with the State Department.
Invest in diplomacy and development
The less we invest in development and diplomacy around the world, the more likely conflicts are to arise, which ultimately land on our military’s shoulders to fight. If we care about improving outcomes for military families, we have to prioritize foreign policy efforts that have the best chance of averting conflicts before they can begin.
We encourage our Members of Congress to work with the President to increase funding for the State Department and improve our powers of diplomacy on the international stage.
SNAP cuts impact military families
It’s also worth noting that the budget reduces Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding by about $180 billion between 2021 and 2030. This cut to domestic funding directly impacts military and veteran families. Census Bureau data in 2017 indicated that at least 16,000 military families receive SNAP, and a Government Accountability Office report in 2013 revealed that number could be as high as 23,000 military families. In addition, 1.3 million veteran families across the country receive SNAP benefits.
We believe supporting our troops means guaranteeing military families are able to put food on our tables. We hope these safeguards are restored in the final budget legislation.