US Congress de-funds International Fund for Ireland

Mick noted in December US-Ireland Alliance founder Trina Vargo’s comment that the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) was “on the chopping block” for the US Congress.  And in a follow-up post Trina Vargo added, for clarity

This is from the US Congress’ Joint Explanatory Statement accompanying Division F of the FY 10 Consolidated Appropriations Act:

“The conferees expect that the assistance provided in this Act will be the final United States contribution to the IFI.”

What about that is unclear? And that was written when the Democrats still controlled the House.

Via Newshound, the Irish Echo online reports

Hopes were dashed late last week when the House and Senate voted to kill all of the U.S. contribution to the International Fund for Ireland for the rest of 2011.

The House Republican leadership led the charge to get rid of the $17.5 million the IFI was to receive from Congress. Supporters of the IFI thought they had persuaded several U.S. senators to reinsert some funding into the short term Continuing Resolution.             Republicans prevailed however and the IFI’s budgetary commitment from the U.S. was shut down.

It is very difficult to restore funding for programs once Congress purposely zeroes out a recipient.

The IFI joined the ranks of a host of other discretionary funds including the Clean Technology Fund, the Strategic Climate Fund, and the Asian Development Fund that Congress consigned to the de-funded column.

Some Democratic senators are banding together to try and restore funding for several of the zeroed out recipients. Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and is trying to formulate the long term spending cuts for the next Continuing Resolution necessary for the U.S. to keep the federal government operating.

Reports nevertheless indicate that it does not look good for restoration of the IFI funding for this year.