New legislation was introduced Monday in the Senate, sponsored primarily by Democrat Chris Coons (D-DE) and Republican Lindsey Graham (R-SC) which will allocate about $3 billion to “democracy” around the globe.
According to The Hill, which viewed a copy of the legislation, the purpose is to “authorize an increase in U.S. democracy funding to over $3 billion, aimed at helping foreign governments confront specific challenges that are undermining democracy, including disinformation, extremism, and attacks on independent media.”
Coons and Graham, both leaders on the Appropriations subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, are pushing for the legislation, which is called the Democracy in the 21st Century Act.
“Every country will bring something to the table this week as President Biden convenes more than 100 countries to advance democracy and human rights around the globe, and this legislation will bolster the Biden administration’s efforts on that front,” Coons told The Hill, referencing Biden’s virtual “Summit for Democracy” conference.
Coons also said, “Our bipartisan bill charts a course and provides new resources for the United States to modernize its tools to better address emerging threats to democracy — including foreign interference, transnational corruption, and digital authoritarianism — and support those efforts across the world.”
As part of the legislation, the nonprofit National Endowment for Democracy would receive funding as well as the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
According to a report from Forbes, the U.S. spent about $300 billion in foreign aid from 2013-2018, with a peak of $49.6 billion in 2015 alone.
“Each year, the U.S. spent about $47 billion. Half the aid went to Africa and the Middle East in FY2018, the latest year available for these statistics. Interestingly, despite President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda, aid to foreign countries remained virtually unchanged in the first two years of his administration,” the outlet reported.
Forbes also noted that, with the exception of New York and California, more taxpayer money was spent overseas than any state individually spent in 2018.
Despite its relatively consistent allotment, some Americans are not as supportive of foreign spending.
“When the American people are asked what government spending should be cut in order to balance the federal budget, foreign aid programs generally top the list,” former Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) once said, according to Forbes.
Negotiations are ongoing in Congress amidst debate surrounding whether or not the debt ceiling will be raised by the end of the month.
On Monday, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) declared that he would not support a move to raise the debt ceiling.
“There ought to be some kind of punishment for people who want to borrow so much money, and the punishment is: They need to be on record saying, ‘We’re going to raise the debt ceiling because we spent too much money last year, or we’re spending too much money this year.’ So, I’m not for making it easier to raise the debt ceiling,” he said.
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