03.09.11

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Senate Continuing Resoluton For Fiscal Year 2011

Later today we will vote on H.R. 1, the House Continuing Resolution, and then the Senate substitute. I want to speak briefly about how the Senate CR compares to H.R. 1, particularly funding for the Department of State and Foreign Operations.

First, Senators should know what is in the House CR or, perhaps more importantly, what is not in it.

It is notable that the House defines diplomacy and international development as non-security spending, in spite of, of course, the integral part they both play protecting our security around the globe.

It ignores the views of Secretary of State Clinton, Secretaryof Defense Gates, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mullen, former Chairman General Powell, General Petraeus, President Obama, former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, and every former National Security Adviser. They have all made clear that these investments do directly protect U.S. security interests, not only on the front line States of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, but around the world.

President Reagan and former Homeland Security Secretary Ridge also recognized the connection between international assistance and our security.

President Reagan said: Security assistance programs, an essential complement to our defense effort, directly enhances the security of the United States.

Secretary Ridge said: The programs supported by the International Affairs Budget are as essential to our national security as defense programs.

Secretary Gates said: I never miss an opportunity to call for more funding for and emphasis on diplomacy and development. There are a whole lot of other examples, from both Republican and Democratic leaders, which seem to have fallen on deaf ears in the House.

Our Republican friends in the House should know that we cannot counter the influence of al Qaida and other violent extremists through military force alone. They should know that helping countries such as Southern Sudan rebuild after conflict, building stable democratic institutions in countries such as Egypt, preventing the trafficking of nuclear material and other weapons in the former Soviet Union, educating and providing jobs for youth who would otherwise be fodder for terrorist recruiters in the Middle East, combating the corrosive influence of organized crime in Central America, preventing the spread of deadly viruses in Africa and Asia—viruses that are only one airplane ride away from the United States—or supporting NATO, the International Atomic Energy Agency, or U.N. peacekeeping—these are all parts of our national security. It is the diplomats here and abroad, and the funds they administer, that help make U.S. leadership possible around the world.

While the House press releases claim to adequately fund operations and programs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, that is empty rhetoric. Secretary Clinton has said the House CR will unacceptably harm U.S. interests in those countries.

That is only the beginning. The House CR slashes funding for refugees and other victims of  disaster by 40 percent, at the same time Members on the other side of the aisle are rightly urging that we help the tens of thousands of Libyans, Tunisians and Egyptians who have fled their homes.

The House CR provides no funding for the Global Food Security Fund which prevents hunger and famine in Africa and Asia and improves America’s standing.

It eliminates funding for the Clean Technology Fund which supports exports of solar, wind, and other renewable energy. And by doing so it opens the door wider to China’s exports. How

shortsighted can we be? It is like owning a business and you have a competitor on the other side of town and you say, Well, we are not going to advertise. We are not going to stock our shelves. We are only going to be open a couple of days a week. Gosh, I hope that competitor doesn’t drive us out of business.

It drastically reduces funding to operate our embassies and consulates, which every American traveling, working, or studying overseas depends on.

Every one of us as Members of Congress knows when an American constituent has a problem somewhere we turn to our embassies or our consulates to help them. H.R. 1 would slash their funding.

H.R. 1 would also sharply cut funding for global health programs: HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other deadly diseases—denying life-saving drugs and other services to hundreds of thousands of people, condemning women and children in other parts of the world to death.

It would renege on our treaty obligations to the U.N. and to the international financial institutions, threatening our voting shares which our competitors— including China—are eager to purchase.

At a time when China is rapidly expanding its influence globally, the House would have us pull back and say, you take over. You can be the power that other countries turn to, not the United States. Even Great Britain’s conservative government, slashing spending left and right, is exempting, and even increasing, international aid, because unlike our Republican friends in the House, they recognize it is a matter of national security.

The impact of H.R. 1 is equally devastating to our domestic programs. From the social safety net to programs that maintain and expand our country’s infrastructure, these programs would be slashed.

Numerous economists, from Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke to Mark Zandi, recognize that the impact of H.R. 1 will be the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, at a time when our economy is beginning to recover. I hear this daily from fellow Vermonters.

Take, for example, the mother who came into my Montpelier office a few months ago and explained how the Head Start Program changed her life. Not only did Head Start provide a reliable, safe, educational environment for her children, it made it possible for her to pursue a college education and be a strong tax-paying part of our society. But H.R. 1 would deny more than 300 of Vermont’s children and families these same opportunities.

For those unmoved by cuts to Head Start, H.R. 1 would also devastate one of our best economic development tools: the community development block grant program. CDBG has a proven track record of putting people to work through housing construction, public service improvement projects and downtown revitalization efforts. The 62-percent cut to CDBG in H.R. 1 would greatly hamper Vermont’s ability to move these types of projects forward at a time when they are needed more than ever.

In the past 3 weeks I have heard from hundreds of Vermonters who rely on the community services block grant program, which would also be slashed in H.R. 1. This is a program that serves 55,000 Vermonters whose incomes are at or below the poverty line—some of my State’s most vulnerable people. The impact of this cut would shutter as many as six of our largest food shelves, and eliminate assistance for the thousands of Vermonters looking for housing and heating assistance each year.

These are only three of the domestic programs that would be decimated by H.R. 1, part of a veritable laundry list of cuts that target the very programs that give Americans a hand up. Very simply we are talking about cutting, food, shelter, and heat, the basic necessities of life. Turning again to national security, a frequently asked question is how does the Senate CR compare to the fiscal year 2010 level for the Department of State and foreign operations? The answer depends on who you ask.

In fiscal year 2010, the Department of State and foreign operations received close to $48.8 billion in regular appropriations and $4.1 billion in emergency supplemental funds for these purposes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Mexico.

In addition, the fiscal year 2009 emergency supplemental provided about $2 billion for fiscal year 2010 costs related to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Mexico. In other words, these programs received $54.9 billion for fiscal year 2010.

While the Senate CR funding level is $1.38 billion or 2.8 percent above the fiscal year 2010 regular appropriation for the Department of State and foreign operations, it is $4.75 billion or 8.7 percent below the fiscal year 2010 level of $54.9 billion which supports operations and programs that must be continued in fiscal year 2011, a critical fact wholly ignored by the House.

Although even the Senate CR cuts funding for the Department of State and foreign operations by billions of dollars, rather than the slash-and-burn approach of the House, it does so in a manner that seeks to limit the damage to our national security. Here are a few of the ways the Senate CR does that.

Although the Senate CR cuts the State Department’s operations budget by $606 million below the request, it provides $552 million above the amount in H.R. 1. These funds support U.S. embassies and consulates, as well as the State Department’s diplomatic personnel and operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

The Senate CR provides $1.5 billion for worldwide security protection. Although $25 million below the request, this is $44.4 million above the amount provided in H.R. 1. This funds diplomatic security agents, armored vehicles, and training to protect U.S. personnel working in dangerous places overseas. It also, incidentally, protects Members of Congress who travel abroad.

The Senate CR provides $625 million for educational and cultural exchange programs, which is $8.2 million below the request and $123.6 million above the amount provided in H.R. 1. These funds, which have traditionally been strongly supported by Republicans and Democrats particularly since 9/11, support exchanges between Americans and citizens of other countries, including the Fulbright, International Visitor Leadership, and Citizen Exchange programs. The House CR would result in the elimination of over 2,500 American exchanges and 8,600 foreign citizen exchanges.

The Senate CR provides $2 billion for U.S. contributions to international peacekeeping, which is $87.3 million below the request and $196.5 million above the amount provided in H.R. 1. These funds pay for peacekeepers in the Sinai, Lebanon, Haiti, Congo, and many other countries that might otherwise descend into chaos and potentially require the deployment of U.S. troops at far greater risk and expense.

The Senate CR provides $1.5 billion for U.S. contributions to international organizations, which is $50 million below the request and $28.5 million above the amount provided in H.R. 1. This funds U.S. membership in the United Nations, NATO, the International Atomic Energy Agency, World Health Organization, and other international organizations that directly protect our security.

The Senate CR provides $39.5 million for the U.S. Institute for Peace, which is $7 million below the request. H.R. 1 does not include any funding for USIP. This funds conflict resolution and peace building, including in Iraq, and has been supported by Republicans and Democrats since Congress first established it. I ask unanimous consent that an Op-ed by GEN Anthony Zinni about USIP in the March 8 New York Times, entitled ‘‘Peace-building that Pays Off,’’ be printed in the RECORD after my remarks.

The Senate CR provides $7.8 billion for global health programs, which is $633 million below the request and $884 million above the amount provided in H.R. 1. These funds support programs to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, polio and neglected tropical diseases, and to support voluntary family planning and reproductive health.

The total to combat HIV/AIDS is $5.35 billion through the Department of State, which is $145 million below the request and $509 million above the

amount provided in H.R. 1. H.R. 1 would deny life-saving HIV/AIDS drugs to some 400,000 people. I wonder how many House Members even know that.

The Senate CR provides $750 million for the Global HIV/AIDS fund, which is equal to fiscal year 2010 and $150 million above the amount provided in H.R. 1. At the House level, approximately 3.7 million people would not be tested for HIV, more than 10 million mosquito nets for malaria would not be provided, and 372,000 testing and treatments for tuberculosis would be halted. Malaria, which is preventable and curable, is a leading killer of African children.

The Senate CR provides $879 million for international disaster assistance, which is $449 million above the amount provided in H.R. 1. These funds support aid to people displaced by war, famine and natural disasters, such as the earthquake in Haiti and floods in Pakistan. The House would decimate our ability to respond to those catastrophes. That is not the America I know.

Likewise, the Senate CR provides $1.68 billion for refugee assistance, which is equal to fiscal year 2010 and $662 million above the amount provided in H.R. 1. At a time when the number of refugees and other displaced persons in the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan is skyrocketing, and protracted refugee crises exist from Burma to Iraq, the House would turn its back on these people.

There are many other examples. The point should be lost on no one. The House CR would cause lasting, unprecedented damage to our global leadership and our security, and cost thousands of American jobs, at the same time that it would have no appreciable impact on the deficit.

The amounts in the House CR or the Senate CR represent only 1 percent of the Federal budget, but it is a critical investment in our security that the House treats as a luxury we can do without. I challenge them to find a single current or former President, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, National Security Advisor, or, frankly, anyone with expertise in this area—Republican or Democrat—who would agree with that shortsighted, dangerous view.

Click here to read The New York Times article "Peace-Building That Pays Off".

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