SECRETARY BLINKEN: Great. Thank you very much. I appreciate it, and again, it’s really a pleasure to be with both of you and all the members of this committee, and I really appreciate this opportunity to talk about the administration’s proposed budget and how it will help achieve our national security priorities and deliver results for the American people, which is our common objective.
I do think this is a critical moment for the United States and our global leadership. As you both alluded to, we face major tests, including stopping COVID-19, rising to the challenge of the climate crisis, supporting a global economic recovery that delivers for American workers and families.
We have to revitalize our alliances and partnerships; out-compete China and defend the international rules-based order against those who seek to undermine it; renew democratic values at home and abroad; and push back against malign activity by our adversaries.
In a more competitive world, other countries are making historic investments in their foreign policy toolkit. We need to do the same thing. That’s why, in this budget, we’ve requested 58.5 billion for the State Department and USAID for Fiscal Year 2022. And Ranking Member Rogers, I just want to point out I’m already saving you some money right there. I think it’s 58.5 billion, so I’ve been responsive to your concern.
And let me just give you some specifics about how we plan to spend these funds if you support them.
First, the budget will strengthen global health. The United States has been a leader in this field for decades in Africa, around the world. We’re asking for $10 billion for global health programs, including nearly $1 billion for global health security, to help us prevent, prepare for, and respond to future global health crises so we can stop outbreaks before they turn into pandemics that put our safety and prosperity in danger.
This budget will accelerate the global response to the climate crisis by providing 2.5 billion for international climate programs, including $1.25 billion to the Green Climate Fund, to help developing countries implement climate adaptation and emissions mitigation programs, which is directly in our interest.
The budget would double down on the fight for democracy, which, as we all know, is under threat in too many places. The budget request includes $2.8 billion in foreign assistance to advance human rights, fight corruption, stem the tide of democratic backsliding, and strengthen and defend democracies – for example, through technical training for elections and support for independent media and civil society. It also requests $300 million for the National Endowment for Democracy.
The budget will support a comprehensive strategy to address the root causes of irregular migration from Central America. It will invest $861 million in the region as a first step toward a four-year commitment of $4 billion to help prevent violence, reduce poverty, curtail endemic corruption, and expand job and educational opportunity.
It will re-establish American humanitarian leadership, with a request of $10 billion in assistance to support refugees, victims of conflict, other displaced people, and to rebuild the refugee admissions program.
It will support our partners in the Middle East by fully funding our commitments to key countries, including Israel and Jordan, and by restoring humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people.
It includes a budget request of $3.6 billion to pay our assessed contributions in full to international organizations, initiatives, and peacekeeping efforts, including to restore our annual contribution to the World Health Organization.
As China and others work hard to bend international organizations to their worldview, we need to ensure that these organizations remain grounded in the values, principles, and rules of the world – road, excuse me – that have made our shared progress possible for so many decades.
Finally, to deliver in all these areas, the budget will reinvest in our most vital asset – our people. It will provide new resources to recruit, train, and retain a first-rate, diverse global workforce, with nearly 500 additional Foreign and Civil Service positions – the largest increase in State staffing in a decade.
And it will modernize our technology and cyber security; protect our embassies and consulates; and include a direct appropriation of $320 million for consular services worldwide, so we can continue to provide these vital services to Americans and those who seek to travel, study, or do business with the United States.
Our national security depends not only on the strength of our armed forces but also our ability to conduct effective diplomacy and development. That’s how we solve global challenges, forge cooperation, advance our interests and values, protect our people, and prevent crises overseas from turning into emergencies here at home. And that’s why diplomacy and development are smart investments for American taxpayers.
A top priority for me as Secretary is to restore the traditional role of Congress as a partner in our foreign policy making. That’s the spirit that I bring to today’s conversation, and I’m very grateful for this opportunity and the chance to answer any questions.