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Hearing of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee - House Democracy Partnership


Location: Washington, DC

Thank you Chairwoman Granger, Ranking Member Lowey, and my fellow colleagues of the House Appropriations Committee, for allowing me the opportunity to testify before this Subcommittee. If I can make one point clear during my testimony, let it be this:

A robust international affairs budget is a reflection of our values and our ideals as a country, and absolutely essential to our national and economic security.

In the wake of terrible tragedy in Japan, we are reminded of our obligation to demonstrate the leadership and humanitarian spirit of the United States in coming to the aid of those most in need.

The ongoing relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti, just off our shores, are a perfect example of the United States acting to save lives abroad while helping to build a foundation for improved governance and to empower people to lift themselves out of poverty. The president and Congress have committed the United States to support the ongoing relief, recovery, and reconstruction needs of Haiti -- a commitment that will be measured by our resolve to fully fund the President's request for these programs within the international affairs budget.

The international affairs budget forms the backbone of U.S. diplomatic and development capabilities, and the vital work of the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and other critical economic, trade, and development agencies. The impact of these programs around the globe are also multiplied by leveraging our partnerships in the international community, and especially at the United Nations, to promote global peace and security, improve health, and reduce hunger and poverty.

Members of the subcommittee are certainly aware of the long history of bipartisan support for these efforts and for the need to fulfill our responsibilities as a global economic and political leader.

We've worked together to launch the longest and most successful effort to combat a single disease, HIV/AIDS, in history. And today I urge the subcommittee to meet the bipartisan commitments to fight global AIDS that Congress and President Bush made in 2008 by providing $7.25 billion for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and $2 billion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria. These small investments pay huge dividends in terms of the number of lives saved, the economic and health benefits that accrue to countries we help, and the goodwill that these programs generate.

In this same spirit, I urge the subcommittee to avert a reversal of gains made over the last decade with regard to maternal mortality rates by providing $1 billion for international family planning and reproductive health programs including vital support for the activities of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The Untied States and our international allies, at last year's UN Millennium Development Goal Summit, rededicated themselves to achieving vital development goals by 2015. I urge the subcommittee to provide the much needed resources requested by President Obama to restore USAID as the world's premier development agency in support of this worthwhile mission.
And as the international community works to address global trends of environmental degradation, it is critical that this subcommittee provides robust funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation activities including:

*$225 million USAID's biodiversity conservation programs
*at least $60 million for the Global Environment Facility's Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF),
*and a fair U.S. contribution to the soon-to-be established international Green Climate Fund at the UNFCCC.

It is important to note that the President's "core" FY 2012 International Affairs Budget request for diplomatic, development and other non-war activities is a modest $53.1 billion, or 1.4 percent of the total FY 2012 budget. If you include overseas contingency operations activities for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan these accounts still totals less than 2 percent of the FY 2012 federal budget, and just .38 percent of GDP. These figures are in stark contrast to the bloated $700 billion plus Pentagon budget which now consumes over 50 percent of discretionary spending.

Perhaps more critical than the direct cost of our international affairs programs, is the enormous economic savings we yield from strengthening economic and diplomatic relationships, addressing the root causes of terrorism and instability, and preventing conflicts before they start. For instance, estimates of the cost per year to maintain a U.S. soldier in the field are as much as ten times that of deploying a civilian aid worker.

This reality is particularly relevant today, as our country remains embroiled in two wars, and a third major military engagement in Libya. We have already spent more that $1.2 trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time we are fighting here in Congress to protect investments in education, healthcare, public health and safety, the war in Afghanistan will cost more than $100 billion in 2011 alone. We simply cannot deny the enormous costs of these wars and their constraining affect on our efforts to reinvigorate U.S. diplomatic capabilities, invest in job creation, and jump start a struggling U.S. economy.

As we look toward finally ending the costly war in Iraq by the end of this year, and transitioning to a military drawdown in Afghanistan, it is critical that the subcommittee retain provisions in FY 2012 barring the establishment of permanent military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. This policy sends a clear signal that the United States does not seek a permanent foreign presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has been supported and signed into law by successive White House administrations under former President Bush and now President Obama.

As we begin deliberations on FY 2012 funding priorities, we must be cognizant of the American people's overwhelming support for the strengthening of U.S. humanitarian and development programs around the world. These programs demonstrate our resolve to seek a more prosperous and peaceful world that is in the strategic interest of the United States. U.S. diplomatic and development efforts are of critical importance to our national security, our credibility, our influence, and our economic relationships around the world.

The Foreign Assistance Act, signed into law on September 4, 1961, reaffirmed, and I quote, `the traditional humanitarian ideals of the American people and…its commitment to assist people in developing countries to eliminate hunger, poverty, [and] illness.' The myriad of challenges we face around the globe have grown, ranging from the rise of multinational terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to climate change. The international affairs budget is directly tied to our ability to meet these challenges. The only question is if we have the resolve to empower United States diplomatic and development agencies by providing them the resources they require to do their vital work -- I believe we do.

I urge my colleagues to support a robust international affairs budget for FY 2012 which at least meets the President's request, including support for the essential priorities I have highlighted.

I thank the Committee once again for the opportunity to share my testimony.

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