Saturday, December 20th, 2014

The Obameter

Promote cultural diplomacy

Will "improve and expand public-private partnerships to expand cultural and arts exchanges throughout the world."


Updates

An increase over 2009

Back in December 2009 we reported on President Barack Obama's efforts to promote cultural diplomacy by increasing the number of cultural and arts exchanges throughout the world.

At the time, we noted that the House passed legislation earlier in the year that included $600 million -- $62 million more than in 2009 -- for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which is responsible for overseeing Department of State cultural initiatives. Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee provided $635.2 million. We ultimately rated the promise In the Works, since we wanted to see how much money Congress would end up appropriating.

We got our answer on December 16, 2009, when Obama signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010 into law. The legislation provided funding to several departments, including the State Department. Congress gave ECA $635 million, $97 million above the 2009 level.

By this point, Obama has already submitted his budget for 2011, so we thought we'd take a look. On the whole, the total funding for educational and cultural exchange programs has dropped, but is still substantially higher than in 2009. Obama requested $633.2 million, compared to $538 million approved for 2009. That said, some specific programs received a boost in funding. The proposed budget would increase funding for English Language Programs from $46.6 million to $50.1 million. It also includes slight increases for the International Visitor Program and the Citizen Exchange Programs.

Obama increased the budget for international cultural exchange programs in his 2010 budget. The proposed 2011 budget would lower the amount slightly, but it is still above the 2009 level by tens of millions.

Promise Kept.

Sources:

Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange, FY 2011 exchanges budget request in detail, by Mark Overmann, Feb. 3, 2010.

The White House, Bills Signed by the President, December 16, 2009.

Committees on Appropriations, Summary: FY 2010 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations, Dec. 8, 2010.

Money in appropriations bills

During the campaign, Barack Obama promised to "improve and expand public-private partnerships to expand cultural and arts exchanges throughout the world."

Promoting cultural exchange comes under the authority of the State Department, particularly the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The bureau was established under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchanges Act of 1961, which called on the State Department to "foster mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries to promote friendly, sympathetic, and peaceful relations."

The bureau oversees a multitude of national and international programs, from the Bangladesh Global Connections and Exchange Program to the Fulbright Classroom Teacher Exchange Program. The bureau's Web site says the programs are based "on the benefits of mutual understanding, international educational and cultural exchange, and leadership development."

To see how President Obama was doing with his promise, we decided to check whether the 2010 budget increased funding for the State Department to administer these exchange programs.

Funding for the State Department comes from the 2010 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. The legislation was passed by the House on July 9, 2009. It includes $600 million for educational and cultural exchanges. That's $62 million more than was allocated in 2009, though $33 million below President Obama's original request. Over in the Senate, the Senate Appropriations Committee provided $635.2 million, $2 million above President Obama's request and $97.2 million more than 2009. The bill, however, still has to be approved on the full Senate floor.

A bill that would expand funding for international cultural exchange programs is under consideration in Congress. So we rate this promise In the Works.

Sources:

U.S. Department of State, About: Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs , Accessed Dec. 6, 2009.

Senate Committee on Appropriations, Summary: FY 2010 Department of State, ForeignOperations and Related Programs Appropriations , Accessed Dec. 6, 2009.

House Committee on Appropriations, Summary: 2010 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations , Accessed Dec. 6, 2009.