Granger Opening Statement: FY2014 State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee - Full Committee Markup
I thank the Chairman for yielding.
I want to thank Ranking Member Lowey for her dedication to this Subcommittee and her leadership as Ranking Member of the Full Committee. Mrs. Lowey and I have a strong working relationship and we are both invested in the important work of this Subcommittee. It is a pleasure to work with her and I respect her very much.
I want to thank all the members of the Committee – from both sides of the aisle – for their participation and thoughtful contributions to this bill.
As you know, this bill reduces funding by billions of dollars from current levels, reflecting the very real economic and financial problems that we face here at home. Given this challenge, the bill protects the most critical priorities first – spending directly related to our national security. This means we are not able to fund everything at the levels we have in previous years, including programs that I support.
There are many security priorities in this bill, but first and foremost, we need to keep American diplomatic staff safe while they represent the United States abroad. This bill continues to recognize the security risks our diplomats face and fully funds the embassy security request at $4.8 billion.
We recognize the instability and unpredictable environment in the Middle East and continue strong support for our key allies in the region, Israel and Jordan. At the same time, security challenges continue much closer to home, so the bill supports our partners in Latin America to strengthen law enforcement and fight drug-trafficking.
The bill focuses on democracy promotion and international broadcasting to help promote American values abroad.
Life-saving HIV/AIDS and humanitarian assistance programs are also prioritized.
The bill supports efforts to address the wildlife poaching and trafficking crisis. This is more than just a conservation issue. This is a national security issue.
In order to do all of this, the bill eliminates, reduces, or puts on “pause” many lower-priority programs.
This bill also contains many important policy provisions. Around the world in places where the United States has security interests, we cannot predict how things will turn out, so we provide the Administration the ability to respond, but we strengthen conditions so that Congress can oversee the funds.
Everyone is closely watching the situation in Egypt, and the relationship between the United States and Egypt has never been more critical. We see the Egyptian military continuing to uphold security arrangements, including the peace treaty with Israel, even while they address many competing priorities at home.
We expect the strong military relationships that Egypt has with Israel and the United States will continue. We also make it clear in our conditions that we want Egypt to embrace democracy, not just democratic elections. We remain hopeful for the Egyptian people as they continue to go through this very difficult transition. For that reason, this bill continues funding if certain conditions are met.
We hope negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will begin soon. Peace is not possible through unilateral statehood efforts and this bill tightens conditions on aid for the Palestinian Authority in this regard.
This bill includes funding in a separate Overseas Contingency Operations section called OCO. This spending allows critical programs to be funded in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, as well as in places where terrorism and instability threaten U.S. interests. OCO spending goes down 42% in this bill as missions in the front-line countries scale back.
As U.S. forces draw down in Afghanistan, there are serious concerns about how security is being handled by the government of Afghanistan. This bill withholds a portion of the funding until we get a transition plan and more details on how we are going to keep our people safe on the ground.
The bill continues conditions from the prior year for Pakistan by prohibiting funds unless the Government of Pakistan is cooperating with the United States on counterterrorism efforts and other issues.
Moving to multilateral assistance, this bill supports contributions to the international financial institutions that benefit the poorest countries. It also imposes conditions on multilateral development banks and increases accountability for the money we provide to the United Nations and other international organizations.
The bill includes language ensuring that funds do not support abortions. It also eliminates funds for the UN Population Fund – UNFPA.
This bill makes tough funding choices and addresses many complex foreign policy problems, but these are the choices we have to make in this budget environment and in a rapidly changing world.
I want to close by expressing my sincere gratitude for the hard work of the staff on both sides.
I yield back to the Chairman and thank him as well for his support for the Subcommittee.