Statement of Chairman Leahy Department of State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee Hearing FY 2014 Budget Request

I want to welcome our new members, Senators Shaheen, Begich, Johanns, and Boozman.  This subcommittee may not be the most popular, and what we do may not get the most attention, but it is the counterpart to the Defense Appropriations subcommittee for how we project United States leadership and protect our interests around the world.  

I want to welcome Secretary of State Kerry who knows this budget backward and forward from his years as a member and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.  It is hard to conceive of anyone better qualified for the job of Secretary, and we are fortunate to have you there.

I also want to acknowledge Senator Graham, who has been such an asset to this subcommittee.  He works hard, travels around the world to see how programs are working – or not working – and he has been a strong defender of this budget and the vital priorities it implements. 

This subcommittee has produced bipartisan bills for as long as I have been here, and when we are given the chance to debate them on the floor they pass overwhelmingly.  We do not want a Democratic foreign policy or a Republican foreign policy.  We want an American foreign policy. 

The world today is focused on North Korea, a nuclear power whose young, untested dictator is recklessly threatening to attack its neighbors, presumably to extort food aid and other economic concessions. 

In the Middle East, Syria has become a humanitarian catastrophe on a scale few would have imagined, and the end does not appear to be in sight.

The revolution in Egypt, which held such promise, has taken a troubling turn and the economy is on life support. 

Around the world, from Russia to Ethiopia, civil society organizations, which are as fundamental to democracy as a credible justice system, are harassed and persecuted to the point of being unable to function. 

As we extract ourselves from two misguided, costly wars, I recall the starry eyed testimony of Pentagon, State Department, and USAID officials in years past about how we were going to remake those societies.  There have been achievements, but I can’t help but wonder how we could have been so naïve.  We need to be a lot smarter about how we spend the public’s money. 

We requested written testimony for this hearing from the State Department Inspector General, the Special Inspector General for Iraq, and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan.  All of them have identified ways to save money.

I agree with the Chairwoman when she says our job is not only to appropriate money, it is also to find ways to save money.  

The Administration’s 2014 budget request for this subcommittee represents a cut of almost $1.5 billion below the 2013 level.  A lot of that is because of reduced Overseas Contingency costs, and we need to work together to achieve the right balance for the rest of the world. 

We cannot act as if what happens in the world around us does not matter.  We cannot treat the United Nations, or the World Health Organization, as if they do not matter.   

Every Republican and Democratic President and Congress since the 1950s has recognized this, and in many ways the world is more competitive and dangerous today than it was back then.

Countering foreign threats, building stable democracies, and reforming foreign economies cost money.  If we don’t do it others will, but not necessarily in ways that we would want.

Mr. Secretary, I know you will have more to say about this in your testimony.

After Senator Graham makes his opening remarks we will hear from Chairwoman Mikulski [and Ranking Member Shelby], and then Secretary Kerry. 

We will then have 7 minute rounds of questions in order of appearance.

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