Opening Statement Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you, very much Chairman Menendez, Ranking Member Risch, all the members of the committee here today.  Very much appreciate this opportunity to talk about the proposed budget and how it will help us achieve our national security priorities and deliver results for the American people, which is our common responsibility and common cause.

We see this as a critical moment for the United States and for our global leadership. We face major tests, including stopping COVID-19, rising to the challenge of climate change, supporting a global economic recovery that delivers for American workers and their families.

We need to revitalize our alliances and partnerships; out-compete China and defend the international rules-based order against those who seek to undermine it; renew democratic values at home and abroad; and push back against malign activity by our adversaries.

In a more competitive world, other countries are making historic investments in their foreign policy toolkit.  We need to do the same thing.  And that’s why, in this budget, we’ve requested $58.5 billion for the State Department and USAID for Fiscal Year 2022.

And just to touch on some of the specifics, the budget will strengthen global health.  The United States has been a leader in this field for decades, in Africa and around the world.  We’re asking for $10 billion for global health programs, including nearly 1 billion for global health security, to help us prevent, prepare for, respond to future global health crises so we can stop outbreaks before they turn into pandemics that put our safety and prosperity in danger.

The budget would accelerate the global response to climate change and the climate crisis by providing 2.5 billion for international climate programs, including 1.25 billion to the Green Climate Fund, to help developing countries implement climate adaptation and emissions mitigation programs, which is directly in our interest.

We would double down in this budget on the fight for democracy, which, as we all know, is under threat in too many places.  People talk about a democratic recession around the world.  Our budget request includes 2.8 billion in foreign assistance to advance human rights, to fight corruption, to stem the tide of democratic backsliding, to strengthen and defend democracies – for example, through technical training for elections and support for independent media and civil society.  We also request $300 million for the National Endowment for Democracy.

The budget would support a comprehensive strategy to address the root causes of irregular migration from Central America.  It would invest $861 million in the region, as a first step toward a four-year commitment of $4 billion to help prevent violence, reduce poverty, curtail endemic corruption, and expand jobs and educational opportunities.

The budget would re-establish our humanitarian leadership, with a request of $10 billion in assistance to support refugees, victims of conflict, other displaced people, and to rebuild the refugee admissions program.

The budget would support our partners in the Middle East by fully funding our commitment to key countries, including Israel and Jordan, and by restoring humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people.

It includes a budget request for $3.6 billion to pay our assessed contributions in full to international organizations, initiatives, and peacekeeping efforts, including to restore our annual contributions to the World Health Organization.

As China and other countries work hard to bend international organizations to their worldview, we need to do our best to ensure that these organizations instead remain grounded in the values, the principles, the rules of the road that have made our shared progress possible for so many decades.

And finally, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member, to deliver in all of these areas, the budget will reinvest in our most vital asset, and that’s our people.  It will provide new resources to recruit, train, and retain a first-rate, diverse global workforce, with nearly 500 additional Foreign and Civil Service positions – the largest increase for the State Department staffing in a decade.

And critically, it would modernize our technology and cyber security; protect our embassies and consulates; include a direct appropriation of $320 million for consular services worldwide, so we can continue to provide those vital services to Americans and those who seek to travel, study, or do business with the United States.

Our national security depends not only on the strength of our armed forces but on our ability to conduct effective diplomacy and development.  That’s how we solve global challenges.  That’s how we forge cooperation, advance our interests and values, protect our people, and prevent crises overseas from becoming emergencies here at home. And that’s why diplomacy and development are smart investments for American taxpayers.

A final word, Mr. Chairman.  A top priority for me as Secretary is to restore the traditional role of Congress as a partner in our foreign policy making.  That’s the spirit that I bring to today’s conversation, and I’m grateful for this opportunity and the opportunity to have a dialogue and answer your questions.

Thank you.