(Casey Harper, The Center Square) President Joe Biden’s 2024 budget proposal requests billions of dollars to advance his gender and sexuality agenda around the world, allocating far more taxpayer dollars to that than dozens of other spending priorities, such as stopping fentanyl from being smuggled across the southern border.
Biden’s budget request for this issue in particular has more than doubled in the last two years. In the past, that focus would have been almost entirely on women and young girls. In recent years, though, advancing women’s rights across the globe is sharing the focus, and the funds, with the president’s gender agenda.
While Biden says he is cutting $3 trillion from the deficit over the next decade, his budget plan would increase the funding to promote “Gender Equity and Equality Around the World.”
From the budget:
The Administration remains steadfast in its commitment to invest in opportunities for women and girls and support the needs of marginalized communities, including the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex community. Reflective of that commitment, the Budget requests more than $3 billion to advance gender equity and equality across a broad range of sectors.
Last year, the U.S. Agency for International Development touted Biden’s budget request of $2.6 billion to promote “Gender Equity and Equality Around the World,” saying it was “more than doubling the amount requested for gender programs in the prior year,” calling it the “largest-ever gender budget request.”
That funding will fuel the USAID and the State Department to pay particular attention to “those who face multiple forms of discrimination, such as adolescent girls and young women, Indigenous women, women and girls in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) community, women with disabilities, and racial, ethnic, and religious minorities.”
Biden’s request for advancing this kind of equity this year increased from the previous doubling by another $400 million, a new record.
Federal spending, in particular debt spending, is under increased scrutiny as inflation remains elevated.
“At a time of dangerous deficits and painful inflation caused by too much federal spending, the Biden administration is constantly seeking ways to waste even more taxpayer resources on ideological crusades,” David Ditch, a budget expert at the Heritage Foundation, told The Center Square. “The obsession with ‘equity’ permeates the entire Biden agenda, often at the expense of core federal duties and functions. Biden is regularly touted as a ‘moderate’ by the press, but he has been comfortable allowing radical activists in his administration to control the agenda and regularly flout the rule of law.”
Biden took fire after the budget’s release for mentioning “equity” 62 times while other major issues received less attention. “Inflation” is mentioned 56 times, though that number is far less if you omit references to the Inflation Reduction Act, which has nothing to do with higher prices. “Border” is mentioned 33 times. “Poverty” is mentioned 21 times. “Ukraine” is mentioned 13 times. “Opioid” is mentioned four times and “fentanyl” is mentioned twice.
For comparison, the budget proposal includes $25 billion for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol but specifies that only $40 million of that is to “combat fentanyl trafficking and disrupt transnational criminal organizations.” According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 100,000 Americans died of drug overdose in 2021.
Opioid spending gets a fraction of the attention that equity receives in the budget.
The proposed budget seeks to spend “$715 million toward opioid use disorder prevention and treatment programs such as VA’s Stratification Tool for Opioid Risk Mitigation, the VA Opioid Overdose Education and Naloxone Distribution program, and programs authorized in the Jason Simcakoski PROMISE Act.”
While the opioid issue may receive federal aid directly or indirectly from other established health and drug grants and programs, the gender issue would also benefit from the same kind of additional help.
A litany of domestic crime issues also receives less funding than the $3 billion overseas investment.
From the budget:
The Budget makes robust investments to bolster Federal law enforcement capacity. The Budget includes $17.8 billion, an increase of $1.2 billion above the 2023 enacted level, for DOJ law enforcement, including a total of nearly $2 billion for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to expand multijurisdictional gun trafficking strike forces with additional personnel, increase regulation of the firearms industry, and implement the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The Budget includes $1.9 billion for the U.S. Marshals Service to support personnel dedicated to fighting violent crime, including through fugitive apprehension and enforcement operations. The Budget also provides $51 million to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to support the continued implementation of enhanced background checks required by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. In addition, the Budget provides a total of $2.9 billion for the U.S. Attorneys, which includes 130 new positions to support the prosecution of violent crimes.
Certain overseas grant funding opportunities from the federal government prioritize LGBT issues. The State Department’s “Global Equality Fund” is a public-private partnership that funnels federal dollars overseas to “provides critical resources to civil society organizations (CSOs) and human rights defenders, including those working to increase the visibility and empowerment of queer women, transgender and other gender diverse people, intersex people, and members of other marginalized LGBTQI+ communities…”