Last night, the Senate voted to reject Sen. Coburn's (R-Okla.) amendment to H.J. Res 45 that would have rescinded $120 billion in federal funding across all agencies. NAFSA wants to thank each of you who took a moment to urge your senators to vote against this amendment. Among other things, Sen. Coburn's amendment would have negatively impacted current funding for the Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program; the Defense Department’s National Security Education Program; the Department of Education’s Title VI and Fulbright Hays Programs; and the Office of International Science and Engineering at the National Science Foundation. Thanks in part to your phone calls, funding for these international education programs that are so valuable to students and campuses across the United States will not be affected.
Speaking in opposition of the amendment to rescind federal funding, Senator Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, defended funding for international exchange programs. He said, "I would tell the senator from Oklahoma that if you look over the last 10 years, there have been significant [funding] shortfalls in many of these [exchange] programs, and in personnel. The [funding] increases began first at the request of former President George W. Bush, and then followed by President Obama because they realized the need for us to have these programs for our own security." He went on to say, "Rather than cut funding, senators on both sides of the aisle have consistently urged the Appropriations Committee to increase funding to expand our efforts to promote better understanding of the United States. If we had funded all the requests for increases, [the exchanges budget] would be considerably more than it was."
In order to complete action on the bill and move the debate on Sen. Coburn's amendment forward, his overall amendment was divided into four divisions. The sections of the amendment focused on reducing funding for all federal agencies made up Division III of the amendment. All but one of the divisions was rejected by the Senate. The portion of the amendment that passed - Division I - requires the Comptroller General of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to routinely evaluate programs to "identify programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives with duplicative goals" and submit an annual report to Congress outlining those findings.
See if your senator voted "yea" or "nay" to Division III of Senator Coburn's amendment to reduce overall federal funding, including funding for international education programs.