Fri. Jul 12th, 2024
Opening Remarks Before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on the FY25 Department of State Budget Request

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.  And to you, to Ranking Member Meeks, to all the members of the committee, it’s very good to be with you today.  I thank you for the opportunity to testify, and I thank you also for the partnership that we have had to advance American leadership in the world – leadership that is so essential to delivering on the priorities that matter to our people here at home.

The need for U.S. global leadership – and the need for cooperation, collaboration with allies and partners – has never been greater.  We have the People’s Republic of China that’s pursuing military, economic, geopolitical preeminence, challenging our vision for a free, open, secure, and prosperous international order.  Russia is committing aggression not only against Ukraine, but against the principles at the heart of the United Nations Charter – territorial integrity, sovereignty, independence – that are the building blocks for global peace and security.

In the Middle East, we’re standing with Israel in its efforts to ensure that what happened on October 7th never happens again, as we do everything we can to bring to an end the terrible human suffering in Gaza and prevent the conflict from spreading.

U.S. leadership is needed to address humanitarian crises elsewhere in the world, including in Sudan, Haiti, other places where millions have been displaced and many have been killed; but also to address global issues that no country can solve alone, including food security, changing climate, transnational corruption, the fentanyl crisis.

But with the support of Congress, we can and we are approaching these challenges from a position of strength.  Because of the actions we’ve taken, the United States is stronger economically, diplomatically, militarily than it was a few years ago.

We’ve made historic investments here at home in our competitiveness, our innovation, our infrastructure.  We’ve renewed alliances, built new ones, secured unprecedented alignment with key partners in Europe and in Asia on the challenges of our time.

We’ve delivered essential aid to Ukraine.  In fact, the United States rallied 50 countries around the world to come to Ukraine’s defense to make sure it wouldn’t be erased from the map, as Vladimir Putin sought.  We’ve rallied the international community to share the burden.  For every dollar that we sent in economic and development assistance, others have collectively invested three more.

Now, many doubted whether bipartisan support for Ukraine and other urgent national security priorities could endure.  But last month, Congress demonstrated to the world that we will not pull back when you passed President Biden’s supplemental budget request by an overwhelming margin.

Our investment abroad does not come at the expense of our strength here at home – far from it.  Most of the supplemental, as you know, is being spent here in the United States, building up our defense industrial base, supporting good American jobs.

We need to keep up the momentum.  That requires a State Department budget that will fully resource our response to the challenges of this time.

The President’s FY25 budget requesting $58.8 billion for the State Department and the USAID does that in two key ways.

First, it funds the essential missions of our department and USAID.  The budget will ensure that the United States continues to be the partner of choice for countries to turn to when they need to solve big problems that also affect our own security and economic well-being.  In an era of renewed great power competition, we have to be able to present the strongest possible offer: one that is relevant and responsive to countries’ needs, and one that advances our security and economic interests.

That’s why, among other things, we’re requesting $2 billion for a new fund to build high-quality, sustainable infrastructure around the world.  Crucially, investments like these create good jobs here in America; they expand markets for our businesses overseas.

We’re requesting resources for the World Bank.  With 1 billion in U.S. funding, we can unlock another $36 billion in development fund capacity to direct to the top priorities of emerging economies.  That’s an enormous return on our own investment – and essential for competing with China around the world.

The budget also includes $1.7 billion for international organizations – including the UN, APEC, the Inter-American Development Bank – to help shape them in ways that reflect our interests and values.

We’re asking for $500 million to give more people around the world access to secure internet, digital technologies.  Doing so will support our own economy through the export of technology products that are made here in the United States.  It will help ensure that we and our fellow democracies remain the leaders and standard-bearers when it comes to new – key technologies like artificial intelligence.

The budget includes funding to address global issues that affect the lives and livelihoods of the American people, as well as people around the world – especially the synthetic drug crisis.  It also funds our response to irregular migration, global food insecurity, public health, climate, and energy security – problems that may be taking place in other parts of the world, but we know that what happens on the far end of the world will come back to bite us if it’s not addressed and addressed effectively, including with our engagement and leadership.

We’re also asking Congress to fully fund the State Department’s educational and cultural exchanges.  They’re one of the best, most cost-effective tools that we have for advancing our values and our interests around the world.  They support students, researchers, young professionals from our communities who study and work abroad.

We also need to guard against attempts by our competitors to spread disinformation and misinformation around the world.  Our Global Engagement Center is critical – it’s a critical tool for countering the threat of information manipulation by China, by Russia, and others, and we urge you to extend its sunset clause before it goes into effect in the coming months.

To outcompete our rivals, we need to invest in the foundation of our strength abroad, and that’s our diplomatic corps.  That’s the second pillar of the budget.

The budget makes a strong investment in expanding our overseas presence, opening new posts in the Pacific Islands, the Eastern Caribbean.

We’ll also continue our modernization of American diplomacy.  We’ve reorganized the department to make sure that it be fit for purpose for the challenges of this time, whether that comes to dealing with new technologies, whether that comes to dealing with global health, climate, dealing with China.  We are making the necessary investments to try to attract and retain the most talented workforce possible.  We’re investing in our people in Washington, at our posts overseas with training, with technology.  We’re promoting more agility, innovation, efficiency in our processes.

Last year’s enacted budget, Mr. Chairman, represented a 5 percent cut from the year before.  And that challenges our efforts to deliver the results that Congress and the American people deserve.

So we urge you to support this budget, which helps us address the most pressing foreign policy priorities of our time and lays the foundation for continued strong American engagement and leadership in the years ahead.

With that, I thank you, and happy to take any questions.

Official news published at https://www.state.gov/opening-remarks-before-the-house-committee-on-foreign-affairs-on-the-fy25-department-of-state-budget-request/

originally published at Politics - JISIP NEWS