Rep. Berman: International affairs funding a part of national security

January 25, 2011 By Richard Parker

Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA) took to the floor yesterday to warn his colleagues of the dangers of slashing the International Affairs budget.

Currently, the House of Representatives is considering cutting non-security spending back to FY 2008 levels. However, as Rep. Berman pointed out, the definition of “security spending” excludes funding for diplomatic and international development initiatives that are crucial to American global security. Berman listed some of the programs that would be cut under this action, including fighting drug traffickers in Afghanistan, training Iraqi security forces, and supporting allies such as Israel:

Foreign assistance programs protect us even outside the areas of active combat or potential conflict. Our efforts to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and other deadly diseases, counter the flow of illegal narcotics, prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, reduce human misery and halt environmental destruction, all help to protect the safety and security of American citizens.

Mr. Speaker, we can’t afford to go back to the isolationist, unilateralist policies of the past. Cutting spending to 2008 levels takes us back to a period when America’s standing in the world was at an all-time low.

Whether it’s finding new markets for U.S. goods and services, addressing climate change, sharing the burden of peacekeeping, enforcing sanctions against Iran, or improving travel and communications, we need to build strong international relationships.

Read Congressman Berman’s full statement here.