The recent White House Rescissions package (Rescission proposal no. R18-25) dated May 8, 2018 included the gutting of the Complex Crises Fund, a critical global account that enables the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department to respond to unforeseen crises. This unique fund has filled a critical gap when other funds are unavailable in times of international crises.
Background On The CCF
The Complex Crises Fund (CCF) is a Congressional appropriation that provides flexible funding to USAID “to prevent and respond to emerging or unforeseen crises,” filling a critical gap when directed assistance funds cannot be reprogrammed.
This funding mechanism is one of the most highly demanded tools of U.S. foreign policy. It has been used to help mitigate violence in 19 countries, including Kenya, Tunisia, and Mali. In Central African Republic, CCF funding has been used to prevent further atrocities and repair social cohesion via community peacebuilding efforts.
Here's the real kicker though: civilian-led crisis prevention saves lives and taxpayer dollars at the same time. The CCF is an essential tool to that end. Specifically, CCF funding focuses on countries and regions that demonstrate a high or escalating risk of conflict and instability, or an unanticipated opportunity for progress in a newly-emerging or fragile democracy. When civilian agencies utilize CCF funding to address crises as they begin, costly American military responses are minimized.
Background On R18-25
Rescission proposal no. R18-25 (pg.25) was sent to Congress by the Trump Administration on May 8, 2018. The entire proposal includes a variety of things, but our focus is on the Complex Crises Fund. The White House's justification is as follows:
"This proposal would rescind $30 million in prior year balances from the Complex Crises Fund (CCF), ofwhich $53 million were available on October 1, 2017. The CCF was designed to support rapid response programs to address emerging and unforeseen crises in order to de- escalate them. To date, the account has largely been used to support activities that are similar to longer-term development work and could be carried out within the resources and authorities ofthe Economic Support Fund. Since other resources and authorities are available to carry out these activities, funding in this account is unnecessary and is not a priority for the Administration. Enacting the rescission would eliminate all remaining unobligated and unplanned balances for the account."
Confusingly, in the most recent White House Budget request, the need for “rapid response capabilities for assistance activities to prevent or respond to emerging or unforeseen complex crises” was recognized. So, it is unclear how cutting the CCF would help the Trump Administration succeed in this area.
A rescission is a decision by the president to not spend money that was appropriated by Congress. Traditionally, rescissions were not a controversial thing. A president would rescind funds when the ability to spend them had expired. Congress passed the Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (ICA) to specify the process the president must use to rescind funds. To rescind even a portion of appropriated funds, the president must:
- Send a message to Congress informing it of the president’s desire to rescind funding
- Print the message in the Federal Register.
The president may only rescind the funds if Congress approves the rescission within 45 days. Congress can either approve the package as proposed, amend it, or reject it in its entirety. When considering the rescission package, both houses treat the package as privileged, with limited debate. Specifically, the Senate cannot filibuster a rescission package.
34 Organizations Oppose Rescission of the CCF
34 non-governmental organizations, including us, issued a letter today urging all Senators and Representative to oppose the rescission of $30 million from the Complex Crises Fund. You can see the letter text, our justifications for keeping the CCF, and signers below:
May 14, 2018
Dear Member of Congress:
We are deeply concerned about the inclusion of the Complex Crises Fund (CCF) in the White House rescissions package (Rescission proposal no. R18-25) dated May 8, 2018.
In support of wise investments to prevent and mitigate violent conflict, we urge you to oppose the rescission of any funding related to the Complex Crises Fund.
The Complex Crises Fund is a critical global account that enables the U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department to respond to unforeseen crises, filling a critical gap when other monies are unavailable. Without this tool, the U.S. government will be limited in its ability to constructively prevent and mitigate crises at a time when global violence is on the rise. Further, in the context of increased risks to ethnic and religious minorities around the world, CCF has served as one of the only sources of funding available for use in coordination with the policy objectives of the White House Atrocities Prevention Board, helping to support peacebuilding interventions to support community resiliencies against outbreaks of violence.
Recognizing the complexities related to unforeseen crises and the need for flexibility in response efforts, CCF has intentionally been appropriated as no-year funding to allow for the most effective use of the resource. A rescission of CCF would undermine the intentions of appropriators for money in the account to carry over from year to year, and could create the perverse effect of forcing spending over less than constructive time horizons.
There has also been a significant challenge over the past several years in that money cannot be spent under continuing resolutions given the wide discrepancy in the House and Senate numbers. Therefore, carry over resources are further necessary to fill the gap between the end of one fiscal year and the passage of full funding for the next.
CCF has broad support from the NGO community – including the Prevention and Protection Working Group , and the Interfaith Working Group on Foreign Assistance – as well as from Congress. Senate report language from FY18 recognized “that the elimination of the CCF account, as proposed in the President’s budget request, has not been justified.” A rescission of this funding would effectively amount to eliminating an appropriated account retroactively.
Finally, in the most recent White House Budget request the need for “rapid response capabilities for assistance activities to prevent or respond to emerging or unforeseen complex crises” was recognized. Given this expressed need and the global realities specific to rising levels of violence, the Administration should be encouraged to wisely invest CCF resources to address emerging or unforeseen conflict, and Congress should oppose rescission efforts specific to this account.
American Jewish Committee's Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights
American Jewish World Service
American Psychological Association
Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation
Better World Campaign
Carl Wilkens Fellowship
Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking at Elizabethtown College
Center for Victims of Torture
Charity & Security Network
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Darfur and Beyond
Darfur Women Action Group
The Educators’ Institute for Human Rights
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Georgia Coalition to Prevent Genocide
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
Green String Network
Humanity United Action
Iowa Center for Genocide Prevention
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Karuna Center for Peacebuilding
Never Again Coalition
Operation Broken Silence
Pax Christi International
Search for Common Ground
STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities
Stop Genocide Now
Together We Remember
The people of Sudan are overcoming two of the greatest challenges facing humanity today: war and genocide. Operation Broken Silence is working to accelerate their ability to generate lasting change through storytelling and movement-building, education and emergency response, and grassroots advocacy programs.
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