Wed. Jun 19th, 2024
Opening Remarks Before the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs on the FY25 Department of State Budget Request

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Very good.  Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Graham, Vice Chair Collins, Chair Murray, very good to be with all of you today on this committee.  I thank you.  I thank you for the opportunity to testify before you and —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Shouting.)

CHAIRMAN COONS:  I recognize people feel passionately.  We must have order in this room.  We are going to proceed with this hearing.

Mr. Secretary, you may resume.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I wanted to thank you also for your partnership in working together to advance American leadership in the world, leadership that’s so essential for delivering on the priorities that matter to our people at home.  I think the need for our global leadership and cooperation with allies and partners —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Antony Blinken, you are a war criminal.  If you —

CHAIRMAN COONS:  The witness will suspend until the room is cleared of protesters. 

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  You are obscene.  (Shouting.)

CHAIRMAN COONS:  Mr. Secretary, you may proceed.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Chairman, thank you.  As I was saying, the need for our leadership and cooperation with allies and partners has never been greater.  The People’s Republic of China is pursuing military, economic, and geopolitical pre-eminence —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Sir, you are a war criminal.  (Shouting.)

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  — 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 UN Charter – independence, territorial integrity, sovereignty – that are the building blocks for global peace and security.  In the Middle East, we’re standing with Israel and 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 around the world.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  This is homicide and genocide.  This is a holocaust.  This is a holocaust.  (Shouting.)

CHAIRMAN COONS:  The witness may suspend until we can clear the room.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  You fill your conscience with mass graves.  This is homicide.  (Shouting.)

CHAIRMAN COONS:  Mr. Secretary, you may resume.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  Our leadership is needed to address humanitarian crises elsewhere around the world, including in Sudan; in Haiti, where millions have been displaced, many killed; and to address global issues that no country can solve alone, including food security, the changing climate, transnational corruption, and 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 we were a few years ago.

We’ve made historic investments here at home in our competitiveness, in our innovation, in our infrastructure.  We’ve renewed our alliances.  We’ve built new ones.  We’ve secured unprecedented alignment with key partners in Europe, in Asia, and beyond.  We’ve delivered essential American aid to Ukraine, and we’ve rallied the international community to share the burden.  For every dollar that we’ve spent in economic and development assistance, others have collectively invested three more.

Now, many doubted that bipartisan support for Ukraine and other urgent national security priorities could endure.  But last month, Congress demonstrated, demonstrated to the world, that we would not pull back.  You passed the President’s supplemental funding bill by an overwhelming margin and on a bipartisan basis.

Our investment abroad does not come at the expense of our strength at home.  Far from it.  Most of the supplemental is being spent here in the United States – building up our own defense industrial base, supporting thousands of American jobs.  We need to keep up this momentum, and that requires a State Department and a budget that we fully resource so that we can meet the challenges of our time.  And I think as Senator Graham put it, in effect, an ounce of prevention is well worth more than a pound of cure, and we know that if we don’t get these problems on the takeoff, we’re going to have to deal with them on the landing but in much more costly and difficult ways.

The FY25 budget that the President is putting forward, requesting $58.8 billion for the State Department and USAID does this in two 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 that countries can turn to when they need to solve big problems, but problems that also affect us.  In an era of renewed great power competition, we’ve got to present the strongest possible offer, one that is relevant and responsive to countries’ needs and that advances our security and economic interests.

That’s why, for example, we’re requesting $2 billion for a new fund to build high-quality, sustainable infrastructure around the world.  Crucially, these kinds of investments create jobs for Americans and expand markets for our businesses overseas.  We’re requesting resources for the World Bank.  With one 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 a huge return on our investment and essential, again, for competing with China around the world.

The budget also includes $1.7 billion for international organizations, including the United Nations, 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 and digital technologies.  Doing so will support the U.S. economy; through the export of our technology products, it will help us to ensure that we and our fellow democracies remain the leaders and standard-setters in 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.  And again, if these problems are not addressed up front, inevitably they are going to have an impact on us down the road.

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

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

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

It will also continue our modernization of American diplomacy.  We are reorganizing the department to make sure that it is ready to face the challenges of this time.  We’re attracting and working to retain the best possible talent.  We’re investing in our people in Washington and at posts overseas with training, with technology.  We’re promoting more agility, more innovation, more efficiency in the processes that we bring to bear.

Last year’s enacted budget level represented a five percent cut from the year before.  That challenges our efforts to deliver the results that Congress and the American people deserve.

So I urge you to support this budget, which helps us address the most pressing foreign policy priorities for the coming year and lays the foundation for strong American leadership in the years beyond.

With that, I’m happy to take any questions.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Official news published at https://www.state.gov/opening-remarks-before-the-senate-committee-on-appropriations-subcommittee-on-state-foreign-operations-and-related-programs-on-the-fy25-department-of-state-budget-request/

originally published at Politics - JISIP NEWS