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Hearing Of The House Committee On Foreign Affairs - "Promoting Security Through Diplomacy And Development: The Fiscal Year 2011 International Affairs Budget"


Location: Washington, DC

Madam Secretary, we appreciate this opportunity to explore with you the President's International Affairs budget request for fiscal year 2011, the supplemental appropriations request for the current fiscal year, and the various policy initiatives you have championed as Secretary of State.

This is the second budget request submitted by this Administration, but the first one prepared from start to finish under President Obama's and your leadership. So this is the first opportunity for Congress and the nation to see a clear and comprehensive picture of your vision and the priorities you have set.

We applaud the President's decision to define "national security" to include not only the Defense budget, but also the International Affairs budget.

As you have said on many occasions, America's national security depends not only on our men and women in uniform, but also on the civil servants who risk their lives on a daily basis to support America's interests abroad.

Regrettably, this point was brought home by the recent deaths of a dedicated Foreign Service Officer in the Haitian earthquake and seven CIA officers at the hands of a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. These courageous civilians gave their lives in service to our country.

Our diplomats and development specialists work day and night to head off international crises before they erupt, and to prevent the onset of failed states where terrorists who threaten our security find safe haven.

Over the long run, these civilian efforts are much more cost-effective than putting our brave soldiers in harm's way. Investing in the international affairs budget is the proverbial ounce of prevention. For example, if we are to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis, whether by diplomacy or sanctions, it will be thanks mainly to the creativity and hard work of our diplomats and civil servants.

Madam Secretary, you have set out very clear priorities in this budget: Working with local partners to defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ensuring that children around the world have enough food to eat and don't die of easily preventable diseases. Helping nations reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. Putting women front and center in our humanitarian and development efforts. And rebuilding our civilian workforce by hiring a new generation of Foreign Service Officers and giving them the training and resources they need to make a real difference.

There may be differences of opinion about the relative priority of these initiatives and the optimal amount of funding for specific countries and programs. But I, and I hope my colleagues on this committee, will do everything we can to maintain the overall funding level because we recognize -- as you do -- that diplomacy and development are integral to our national security.

In fact, a full 18 percent of the International Affairs budget request -- or $10.8 billion -- is for the frontline states of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. That includes $1.6 billion for programs that were previously carried out by the Pentagon, including Iraqi police training, the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capabilities Fund and Section 1207 reconstruction and stabilization assistance.

By having the State Department assume responsibility for these programs, we place them in civilian hands where they belong and allow the military to focus on its core mission.

There are many different ways to look at the budget figures. I would argue that in order to compare apples to apples, the fiscal year 2010 total should include supplemental funding -- both the new request, and "forward funding" provided in the 2009 supplemental. Looking at it that way, the fiscal year 2011 request represents a very modest increase, about 2.8 percent.

In these difficult economic times, it is particularly important to remind ourselves and the American people that the International Affairs Budget is little more than one percent of the entire federal budget, and only a small fraction of the amount we spend on defense.

Madam Secretary, we look forward to hearing your testimony on the budget request and the Administration's foreign policy priorities.

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