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Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson December 22, 2009

Funding for NED goes up, but not by much

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama said the United States should "significantly increase funding for the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and other nongovernmental organizations," in order to "channel most support for democratic activists living under the most repressive regimes through independent institutions, committed to supporting democrats but free from perceptions of questionable or ulterior motives."
First, some background on the NED. It is a private, nonprofit organization created in 1983 that makes hundreds of grants each year to support prodemocracy groups around the world.
In its proposed fiscal year 2010 budget, the administration actually sought to reduce the NED from the $115 million it had in fiscal year 2009 to $100 million, contrary to Obama's promise.
But in the omnibus appropriations bill that the president signed in December 2009, lawmakers set the NED's amount at $118 million, more than restoring the proposed cut. The bill went on to specify that the $18 million above the administration's request had to go for democracy, human rights, and rule of law programs.
In the meantime, several other smaller programs categorized under the same budget heading as the NED either saw cuts proposed in the administration's budget, then restored by Congress in the final bill, or saw final funding amounts in excess of what the administration had sought. These include the Asia Foundation and the East-West Center.
The NED does have more money for 2010 than it had for 2009, but the difference is small -- about in line with inflation -- and it would be a stretch to say that it was "significantly increased" through the appropriations process. So we rate this promise a Compromise.

Our Sources

National Endowment for Democracy, About us Web page , accessed Dec. 21, 2009
Text of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010
State Department, fiscal year 2010 budget request (international affairs function), accessed Dec. 21, 2009

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