Washington, 6 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - President Bill Clinton today asked the U.S. Congress for $1.69 trillion to fund the government in the financial year that starts next October 1.
The President's proposed budget includes a request for $492 million for assistance programs in Central and Eastern Europe and the Baltic nations and $900 million for the states of the former Soviet Union.
The total budget request for the conduct of U.S. international diplomacy is $2 billion, about $4 billion more than the government plans to spend this year.
The request from the White House starts the annual process in Washington of writing a budget for the next fiscal year. Clinton's budget is just a request. The Congress has the constitutional authority to finance the government. The House of Representatives and the Senate will each set to work on drafting 13 separate pieces of legislation that will appropriate money for all cabinet departments and government agencies.
The Congress will work with Clinton's figures. However, there are likely to be big differences between what Clinton wants and what Congress approves. Clinton is a Democrat and both chambers of Congress are controlled by Republicans.
In the foreign aid portion of the budget request, Clinton asks $225 million for Ukraine and $95 million for Armenia. Those are the only former Soviet republics targeted for specific amounts of aid.
In Eastern and Central Europe, the aid request is not broken down by country. The funds are used to finance a variety of assistance programs and initiatives aimed at helping the former communist states build democracy and free market economies.
The Clinton budget also asks for nearly $367 million to finance all non-military international broadcasting operations. That would be an increase of more than $41 million over what the U.S. expects to spend this year.
The broadcasing account covers the operations of the Voice of America -- which broadcasts around the world; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty -- an independent corporation which broadcasts to the former Soviet Union and to Eastern and Central Europe; Radio Free Asia -- which broadcasts to China and other Asian countries; radio and television broadcasting to Cuba; the U.S. Information Agency's WORLDNET television service, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees the broadcast operations.