Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024
Secretary Antony J. Blinken Opening Remarks Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations On the FY24 Department of State Budget Request

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, thank you very much, Chairman Menendez, Ranking Member Risch, committee members.  Very good to be with you today as always, and thanks for the opportunity to speak to the administration’s proposed FY24 budget for the State Department and the Agency for International Development.

We meet at an inflection point and I think that’s reflected actually in what both the chairman and ranking member said.  The post-Cold War world era is over, and there is an intense competition underway to determine, to shape, what comes next.  The United States has a positive vision for the future: a world that is free, that is secure, that is open, that is prosperous.

The budget that we’re putting forward will help us advance that vision and deliver on issues that are important to most of the American people by preparing us to engage effectively two broad sets of challenges.

The first set is posed by our strategic competitors – the immediate, acute threat posed by Russia’s autocracy and its aggression against Ukraine, and the long-term challenge from the People’s Republic of China.

The second set is posed by some shared global tests, including the climate crisis, migration, food and energy insecurity, pandemics, all of which have a direct impact on the lives and livelihoods of Americans as well as people around the world.

With this committee’s leadership and support across two State Department authorization bills, the United States is in a stronger geopolitical position than we were a couple of years ago.

We’ve drawn enormous power from investments we’ve made in our own economic strength and technological edge at home, including through the Infrastructure Investment Act, through the CHIPS and Science Act, through the Inflation Reduction Act.  Our unmatched network of alliances and partnerships has never been stronger.  We’re expanding our presence in critical regions like the Indo-Pacific, and we’re leading unprecedented coalitions to confront aggression and address humanitarian crises around the world.

The President’s FY24 Budget Request for the State Department and USAID meet this moment head on.

The budget will sustain our security, economic, energy, and humanitarian support for Ukraine to ensure that President Putin’s war remains a strategic failure.

The budget will also strengthen our efforts to outcompete the PRC.  President Biden and I share the chairman and ranking member’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific, which is why this proposal asks for an 18 percent increase in our budget for that region over FY23.  The budget contains both discretionary and mandatory proposals for new innovative investments to outcompete China – including by enhancing our presence in the region and ensuring what we and other fellow democracies have to offer, including things like maritime security, disease surveillance, clean energy infrastructure; digital technology is more attractive than the alternative.

The budget will help us push back on advancing authoritarianism and democratic backsliding by strengthening democracies around the world – including through supporting independent media, countering corruption, defending free and fair elections.  And it will allow us to pay our contributions to international organizations because we need to be at the table wherever and whenever new international rules that affect the livelihoods of our people are actually being debated and decided.

The budget will allow us to continue leading the world in addressing global challenges, from food and energy insecurity to climate and health crises.  And on that last point, we’re celebrating this week the 20th anniversary of PEPFAR – I think one of the greatest achievements in our foreign policy in recent decades – which has helped save 25 million lives around the world.  This budget will help us continue the fight against HIV/AIDS while advancing global health security more broadly through a new Bureau of Global Health Security and Diplomacy, which I look forward to working with Congress to establish this year.

The budget will advance our efforts to modernize the State Department, including by expanding our training float; updating our technology; carrying out diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility initiatives, including to make our overseas missions more accessible.  I’m grateful for the progress that we’ve already made together, including Congress’s support in updating the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act and Accountability Review Board, which gives us more flexibility to open new missions and to better manage the risks that our people face around the world.  We know there’s more to do, and we’re looking forward to working with Congress to accelerate modernization efforts so that the department can better attract and retain and support our first-rate workforce as they advance our interests in what is a complex and fast-moving landscape.

Finally, the budget will further a priority for me, and I know for many of you, and that is supporting Enduring Welcome, our whole-of-government effort to resettle our Afghan allies.  Keeping our promises to those who served with us remains an unwavering priority.  This budget will help us continue to make good on that commitment.

Mr. Chairman, as you referenced, when I began this role, I committed to restoring a real partnership with Congress as an equal partner in our foreign policymaking.  And I really value tremendously the work that we’ve done together, the engagements that we’ve had, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Risch, and look forward to continuing those, and also to working on this budget together as we move forward in the months ahead.

So thank you very much for having me here today.

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