US Congress Cuts Funds for Civilian Assistance to Afghanistan

On Friday, January 24, 2014, President Barack Obama signed a massive spending bill into law that was voted in Congress and will reduce funding for overall civilian assistance to Afghanistan by 50% for 2014.

After making a bid in 2013 for $2.6 billion, lawmakers only allocated $1.12 billion to Afghanistan for fiscal 2014.

In an article published by The Washington Post, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on financial and contracting oversight, is quoted: “Unfortunately, waste, fraud and abuse has too often been the result when it comes to the billions we’ve spent in Afghanistan”.  That sentiment, which several members of both parties have come to share, led appropriators to insist that the Defense Department launch no new infrastructure projects this year, the article explains. In a memo justifying the decision, appropriators said House members demanded the language, citing the Pentagon’s “lack of a detailed strategy” for such projects.

Afghan President Karzai’s refusal to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), which would provide the legal framework for a continued U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, also seems to play a role in this cut, as the article from The Washington Post suggests: “’The bill prohibits the obligation or expenditure by the United States government, of funds appropriated in this or any other act, for the direct personal benefit of the President of Afghanistan,’ appropriators wrote, […].”

Andrew Wilder, who directs Afghanistan and Pakistan programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace and spent years working in the region, quoted by Reuters, warns: “U.S. policymakers should be careful not to punish the Afghan people, or undermine U.S. strategic interests in Afghanistan, based on their frustrations with an Afghan president who should be stepping down following presidential elections in less than three months.”


To read the article “U.S. eyes options for Afghanistan after Congress cuts aid” published by Reuters, please click here.

To read the article “Congress cuts U.S. military and development aid for Afghanistan” published by The Washington Post, please click here.

To read the article “U.S. Cuts Afghan Development Aid By Half” published by ToloNews, the Afghan news channel, please click here.


Photo by NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan.

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