Opening Remarks Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Full Committee Markup FY 2016 State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill

I want to thank the Chairman and Vice Chairwoman for the support they and their staffs have given the subcommittee.  And I thank Senator Graham and his staff, who have done the best they could with a very difficult allocation. 

They worked closely with me and my staff, which is a long tradition in our subcommittee. 

This bill, despite Senator Graham’s and my best efforts, shows the real problems with the Republican budget. 

No one in this room can honestly say that it provides the necessary funds to adequately support the diplomacy, development, and national security needs of the United States.  It does not.   

Senator Graham has warned about the dire effects of sequestration on U.S. leadership, as have I.  It would have been better to agree on a budget the President would accept, rather than go through this process knowing we will be back at the drawing board later this year.

I will describe some of the consequences of sequestration for this bill when I offer my amendment to restore the funding necessary to get us to a top line that is closer to the President’s request. 

But as inadequate as it is, I will vote to report this bill.  Senator Graham and I produced a bipartisan bill with what we had to work with, and it will get us closer to a budget deal that can get us across the finish line.  

On the positive side, the bill provides the amounts requested to protect our embassies and diplomats, it maintains funding at current levels for global health, educational exchange programs, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and the Peace Corps. 

It fully funds the request for Israel and provides additional aid for Jordan and Lebanon, which are struggling to deal with a flood of Syrian refugees. 

It provides $675 million for the Central America Alliance for Prosperity, which is $325 million below the request but $225 million above the House. 

It includes many of the same authorities and limitations on funding as in current law, which have bipartisan support. 

On the other hand, it is simply not adequate for a global power that he American people expects to –  

  • respond to humanitarian disasters;
  • support our allies;
  • build markets for U.S. exports;
  • support those who are facing Russian and Syrian aggression, and who are threatened by ISIS and other violent extremists;
  • meet our treaty obligations; and
  • stand up for the ideals this country was founded on.    

Mr. Chairman, at the appropriate time I will have an amendment to restore funding that both Republicans and Democrats on this Committee requested, and that would make it possible for this country to be the leader it needs to be and for the world to be more secure. 

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