Chairman Patrick Leahy State Department And Foreign Operations Subcommittee Opening Remarks Full Committee Markup FY 2015 State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill

I want to thank the Chairwoman and Ranking Member Shelby for the support they and their staffs have given the subcommittee.   And I thank Senator Graham for his input and support.  This bill is better because of it.

I also want to thank the staff:  Paul Grove and Adam Yezerski for the Minority, and Tim Rieser, Janet Stormes, and Alex Carnes for the Majority.  They have worked as a team, as they always do.

We could not have produced this bill without the dedicated, hard work of the editorial and printing staff.  They are indispensable.

The bill is within our subcommittee allocation.  It totals $285 million below the President’s budget request and $716 million below the fiscal year 2014 level.  It is only 1 percent of the Federal budget but it has enormous importance to protecting U.S. economic, security, and humanitarian interests around the world.

This was a difficult bill to draft.  With less money than last year, we needed to address the worsening humanitarian crises in Syria and Iraq, and the surge in unaccompanied migrant children from Central America which has also been a priority of the Chairwoman’s.  We also provide additional support for Ukraine and other former Soviet republics to counter Russian influence, a priority of Senator Coates.

Senator Graham and I made every effort to respond to the requests of Members of both parties.  Like any bill, there are things that both of us prefer were not in here.

The bill fully funds the operational and security needs of our diplomats and foreign aid personnel, and it meets our treaty obligations for UN peacekeeping and international organizations like NATO and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

We fully fund the request to combat HIV/AIDS and for other global health programs.  We increase funding for children’s vaccines and several other health programs above the fiscal year 2014 level.

We provide increased funding for counter-terrorism programs in Africa. 

We include reforms to improve transparency and oversight of the use of funds.

We fully fund aid to key allies like Israel and Jordan.  We provide $1.15 billion for Egypt, with conditions similar to last year.

We are reminded every day that we live in an increasingly dangerous and competitive world.  We fund these programs because we know that if we do not protect our interests – whether in East Asia, North Africa or in our own hemisphere – others will fill the void.

Madam Chairwoman, we have a few managers’ amendments that have been agreed to, and I believe there are amendments that will require votes. 

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