Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

Senate Chops Request for New Counterterrorism Partnership Fund, White House Still Happy

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., whose Appropriations subcommittee scaled back the new counterterrorism fund, arrives in the Capitol for a vote on June 24. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., whose Appropriations subcommittee scaled back the new counterterrorism partnership fund, arrives in the Capitol for a vote on June 24. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In a high-profile move earlier this year, President Barack Obama asked Congress for $5 billion for a new Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund that would be used to help other countries get better at fighting terrorist organizations. On Tuesday, a Senate panel agreed to give the administration less than half of what it sought. Yet the White House still welcomed this in an evening blog post.

According to a summary of the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill, which the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense approved Tuesday: “$1.9 billion is provided in the new Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund to be carried out within existing authorized programs, and [the bill] provides revised annual caps on counterterrorism assistance.” The panel noted that overall, including that $1.9 billion amount, a total of $2.9 billion is allocated to cooperative counterterrorism programs.

Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president on homeland security and counterterrorism, still praised the Senate panel’s bill.

“Its ultimate passage would allow us to move forward on a number of priority national security initiatives, including the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund (CTPF),” she wrote. “Because today’s principal terrorist threats no longer emanate from al-Qa’ida central leadership but from an evolving and decentralized set of actors, we need the flexibility to develop tailored regional solutions to terrorist groups that pose the greatest threat to the United States, wherever they are located.”

John M. Donnelly has a more thorough breakdown of the overall committee action for subscribers. He wrote of the new counterterrorism partnership fund: “Appropriators traditionally chafe at huge funds for largely unspecified purposes, and that appears to be what happened here.”

House Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., is also among the skeptics of the new counterterrorism partnership fund. His panel is one of several taking a look at the administration’s war-related Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) request this week, with his committee slated to do so later Wednesday morning. The new counterterrrorism fund was proposed as part of that OCO request.

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