Wed. Jul 24th, 2024
Secretary Antony J. Blinken Opening Remarks Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations On the FY25 Department of State Budget Request

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.   To you, Ranking Member Risch, all the members of the committee: it’s always good to be back before this committee.  And as you said, I was on the other side of the dais, behind where you are, for six years.  So I always appreciate the opportunity to be back here among colleagues.  And thank you for the opportunity to testify today.

More importantly, thank you for the partnership that I think we’ve been able to manifest together to advance American leadership in the world that is so essential for delivering on the priorities that matter to the people we represent.

The need for U.S. global leadership – and for cooperation with allies and partners – has never been greater.

The People’s Republic of China is pursuing military –

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Hind Rajab was six years old when Israelis killed her.  Hind Rajab was six years old.  Blinken, you will be remembered as the butcher of Gaza.  You will be remembered for murdering innocent Palestinians.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible) you’re brutalizing everybody.  There’s brutalized people here.  Jesus, look at that.   I’ve already (inaudible).

CHAIRMAN CARDIN:  The person – will the officer please remove the person who’s making these comments?

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible) Palestine.  For Palestine (inaudible).

CHAIRMAN CARDIN:  If anyone is speaking, please be removed.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Bloody (inaudible).

(Interruption continues.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Stop the [expletive] genocide.  Stop the genocide.  There are people (inaudible).

CHAIRMAN CARDIN:  Mr. Secretary, you may proceed.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  As I was saying, the People’s Republic of China –

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Blinken is a war criminal.  He is a war criminal.  The blood of 40,000 people is on his hands.  The blood of 40,000 Palestinians is on his hands.  He is a war criminal.  He is a war criminal.  Blinken is a war criminal.  The blood of 40,000 people is on his hands.  The blood of 40,000 people is on his hands.  Blinken is a war criminal.

CHAIRMAN CARDIN:  Mr. Secretary, you may continue.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  The People’s Republic of China is pursuing military, economic, and 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 – sovereignty, territorial integrity, 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 an end to 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, including in Sudan and Haiti, where millions have been displaced and many killed, and to address global issues that no country can solve alone, including food security, a 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, and militarily than we were three years ago.

We’ve made historic investments at home in our own competitiveness, innovation, infrastructure.  We’ve renewed our alliances.  We’ve built new ones.  We’ve secured unprecedented alignment with key partners in Europe, Asia, and beyond.

We’ve delivered essential American aid to Ukraine, and we’ve rallied the international community to share the burden with us.  For every dollar that we’ve sent in economic and development assistance, others collectively have invested three more.

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

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 defense industrial base, creating and supporting thousands of American jobs.

We need to keep up this momentum.  That requires a State Department budget that we fully resource in order to meet the challenges of our time.

The President’s FY2025 budget –

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Blinken, you are funding a genocide in Gaza.  There have been seven mass graves outside of hospitals.  This is sick.  This is deranged.  You are a war criminal.  Shame on you.

CHAIRMAN CARDIN:  You may continue.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  The President’s FY25 budget – requesting $58.8 billion for the State Department and USAID – does this in two key ways.

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

That’s why we’re requesting $2 billion for a new fund to build high-quality, sustainable infrastructure around the world.  Crucially, investments like these create jobs for Americans.  They expand markets for our businesses.

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 is an enormous return on our investment – and essential 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 our 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 our economy through the export of our technology products, and it will help ensure that we, and our fellow democracies, remain the leaders and standard setters in key technologies like artificial intelligence.

Our budget also includes funding to address global issues that affect the lives, the 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.

We’re also asking Congress to fully fund the State Department’s educational and cultural exchanges.  These are one of our best, most cost-effective tools 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.

To outcompete our strategic rivals, we also need to invest in the foundations of our strength abroad: our diplomatic corps.  And that’s the second pillar of our 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 our diplomacy.  We’re organizing the department in new ways to meet these new challenges, working to attract and retain the best talent needed to take them on, investing in our people in Washington and at our posts overseas with training, with technology, promoting more agility, more innovation, more efficiency in our processes.

Last year’s enacted budget level represented a 5 percent cut from the year before.  That challenges our efforts to deliver results that Congress and the American want to see.

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

In conclusion, I’d like to thank this committee for your recent confirmations of ambassadors and other senior officials.  Any undue delays in such confirmations undermine our national security and weaken our ability to deliver for the American people.

I’m grateful for the partnership of this committee and for your time.  Look forward to answering any questions.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member.

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originally published at Politics - JISIP NEWS