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USAID chief: GOP budget would kill 70,000 children

Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), told a House Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday that the passage of the House Continuing Resolution would have a devastating impact on developing areas around the world.

To the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs subcommittee, Shah said:

“We estimate, and I believe these are very conservative estimates, that H.R. 1 would lead to 70,000 kids dying.”

[...]

“Of that 70,000, 30,000 would come from malaria control programs that would have to be scaled back specifically. The other 40,000 is broken out as 24,000 would die because of a lack of support for immunizations and other investments and 16,000 would be because of a lack of skilled attendants at birth.”

In total, the cuts that appear in H.R. 1 would chop 16 percent from President Obama’s budget request for international relations. Certain programs would be hit harder than others; the International Disaster Assistance (IDA) fund, for example, would be allotted $430 million in 2011, half of what Obama has requested and just a third of what was ultimately spent in 2010. Shah said that the cut would likely put half of the 1.6 million Darfurians IDA currently supports at risk for disease, famine and further oppression.

Shah has previously come out against the USAID cuts that appear in the House Republicans’ budget plan. He called them “absolutely devastating” and said that U.S. efforts like disaster relief and nuclear emergency prevention in Japan could be threatened by cuts.

Foreign aid comprises about 1 percent of the total U.S. budget. Polls have shown that Americans vastly overestimate how much the government spends on foreign aid. The median guess as to how much of the budget is devoted to foreign aid is 25 percent.

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