News from IGD’s Washington, DC Office
By Austin R. Cooper Jr.
The day after Labor Day, on September 5, the 115th Congress returned to Washington from the August recess to face the daunting task of legislative priorities, including, but not limited to: passing emergency relief legislation for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana (and later that week, Hurricane Irma, which devastated Florida and the Caribbean); averting a federal government shutdown – at least until December 8, 2017; raising the nation’s debt ceiling; revisiting the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); and tax reform.
Later in the week, President Donald J. Trump met with the Democratic leadership and agreed to a proposal by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to extend the nation’s borrowing capacity, fund the government and provide billions in hurricane relief. A handshake deal between President Trump and Democratic leaders agreed in principle to pursue a plan to permanently remove the requirement that Congress vote every time the debt ceiling needs to be raised.
Congress passed on September 7, a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the Government at FY 2017 levels for another three months until December 8, 2017 – a stopgap measure.
The IGD advocacy team is actively working the Halls of Congress, and working very closely with key Members’ offices, to ensure full FY 2017 funding levels for key international development priorities, including two international development organizations – the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
In recent months, the IGD team has successfully encouraged House and Senate appropriators, through letters, calls and Hill visits, to restore the initial proposed cuts by the White House and House of Representatives for FY 2018. The team will continue our efforts to ensure that cuts are minimized in key international development programs, departments and agencies, until final votes on related numbers are recorded in December and sent to the President for signature into law.
For the week of September 18, political attention will shift to New York City with the formal opening of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). State Department aides have signed that the U.S. delegation will have a “toe-print, not a footprint” at the UNGA.
In particular, the size of the Administration delegation visiting New York is expected to be smaller than earlier years, as the President continues his efforts to reshape the U.S. approach to diplomacy worldwide. In previous years, the average size of the U.S. Delegation from Washington was about 1,000, representing most federal agencies and departments.
President Trump’s first speech before the U.N. General Assembly is slated for Tuesday, September 19.
Austin R. Cooper, Jr. is the Government Affairs representative for Initiative for Global Development and President at Cooper Strategic Affairs, Inc.