Secretary Antony J. Blinken Opening Remarks Before the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, on the FY24 Department of State Budget Request

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very, very much.  Chairman Coons, Ranking Member Graham, very good to be with you.  Chair Murray, Vice Chair Collins, to all the committee members here today, thank you for this opportunity to speak with you about our proposed FY24 budget for the State Department and USAID.

And I think as you’ve both laid out in different ways, we are meeting at an inflection point.  The post-Cold War era is over, and there is an intense competition underway to shape, to determine what comes next.

We, the United States, have a positive vision for the future: a world that is free, that is secure, that is open, that is prosperous.   And it’s our belief that the budget that we put forward will help advance that vision and deliver on issues that actually matter to the American people, particularly by preparing us to effectively meet two broad sets of challenges.

The first is the challenge posed by our strategic competitors – the immediate, acute threat posed by Russia’s autocracy and aggression, most destructively, of course, through its brutal aggression against Ukraine, and the long-term challenge from the People’s Republic of China.

The second set of challenges is really posed by shared global tests, including the climate crisis, migration, food and energy insecurity, pandemics, all of which directly impact the lives and livelihoods of Americans and people around the world.

With this committee’s leadership and support, including through the FY23 Omnibus, the United States is in a stronger geopolitical position than we were two years ago, hence our ability to deal with these challenges I think has been enhanced.

We have drawn enormous power from investments that we’ve made in our own economic strength and technological edge at home, including through the Infrastructure and Jobs Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, the Inflation Reduction Act.

The unmatched network of alliances and partnerships has never been stronger.  In fact, we’ve been building on it, not only strengthening existing alliances and partnerships, but building new coalitions of countries and other institutions that are fit for purpose.  We’re expanding our presence in critical regions, like the Indo-Pacific.  We’re leading the unprecedented coalitions to confront aggression and address humanitarian challenges around the world.

The ’24 budget request for the State Department and USAID meets this moment head on.

This budget will sustain our security, economic, energy, and humanitarian support for Ukraine to ensure that President Putin’s war remains a strategic failure.

It will strengthen our efforts to outcompete the PRC.  President Biden is firmly committed to advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific, which is why this proposal asks for an 18 percent increase in our budget for that region over FY23.  The budget contains both discretionary and mandatory proposals – and we’re happy to talk about why we proceeded this way – for new innovative investments to outcompete China, including by enhancing our presence in the region, and ensuring that what we and our fellow democracies are able to offer, including maritime security, disease surveillance, clean energy infrastructure, digital technology, is more attractive than any alternative.

The budget will help us push back on advancing authoritarianism and democratic backsliding by strengthening democracies around the world, including through supporting independent media, countering corruption, defending free and fair elections.  And it will allow us to pay our contributions to international organizations, because we need to be at the table wherever and whenever new international rules that affect the livelihoods of our people are being debated and being decided.

The budget will allow us to continue leading the world to addressing these global challenges, from food and energy insecurity to climate and health crises.  And just on that last point, as you all know, we’re celebrating now the 20th anniversary of PEPFAR, which I think is one of the greatest achievements in our foreign policy over the last decades.  It’s helped us save 25 million lives around the world.  This budget will help us continue the fight against HIV/AIDS, while advancing health security more broadly through a new Bureau of Global Health Security and Diplomacy, which I look forward to working with Congress to establish this year.

The budget will advance our efforts to modernize the State Department, including by expanding our training float, updating our technology, carrying out diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility initiatives, including to make our overseas missions more accessible.  I’m grateful for the progress we’ve already made together, including Congress’s support in updating the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act and Accountability Review Board to give us some of the flexibility that we need to open new missions and better manage the risks that we face.  We know there’s more to do, and we’re looking forward to working with Congress to accelerate these modernization efforts so that the department can better attract, better retain, and support a first-rate workforce as they advance our interests in what is a very complex and fast-moving world.

Finally, the budget will further a personal priority for me, and I know for many of you, and that is supporting Enduring Welcome, our whole-of-government effort to resettle our Afghan allies.  Keeping our promises to those who served alongside the U.S. remains an unwavering priority.  This budget will help us continue to make good on that commitment.

When I took on this role, I committed to doing my part to try to restore Congress’s place as an equal partner in our foreign policymaking.  I’m determined to continue to do that and very much appreciate the work that we’ve been able to do with this committee over the last couple of years and look forward to the work ahead.

And with that, I welcome any questions.  Thank you.

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