April 11, 2016

Senators, Top Military, Business, Faith Leaders Raise Alarm About Potential Dangerous Cut to Foreign Aid

With Growing Global Crises, Senators Graham and Leahy, Former Senate Majority Leaders Frist and Daschle, Admiral Stavridis and General Zinni, and Top Business and Humanitarian Leaders Warn Against Grave Danger of America Pulling Back Overseas

WASHINGTON – As the Senate Appropriations Committee prepares to release its Fiscal Year 2017 spending levels this Thursday, a wide range of top leaders are voicing alarm on the potential for dangerous cuts to America’s international affairs programs.

With unprecedented global crises across the world – including the rise of ISIS and spread of the Zika virus – former senators alongside military, business, faith, and humanitarian leaders have united together to protect America’s development and diplomacy programs that have already seen a dramatic decline in funding in recent years.

The following are top statements and actions by officials and advocates who are mobilizing in Washington and across the country to protect these civilian tools – including the State Department, USAID, and the Peace Corps – that are vital for America’s national security and economy and saving lives. All statements were released to the USGLC unless otherwise noted.

USGLC leaders including Admiral Stavridis, General Zinni, Liz Schrayer, Bill Lane, and Carolyn Miles are available for media interviews this week.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chairman of the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee:

“We can’t retreat from the world. Our own national security depends on us being engaged. I’m the guy who wants to kill off the terrorists, but I also realize that is a limited way to win this war long-term. In some cases, educating a young girl will do more to win this war than dropping any amount of bombs. The terrorists offer people a glorious death. Our goal, and the main point of our assistance programs, is to offer people a hopeful life.”

Senator Graham has also recently called on Congress to fund a new “Marshall Plan” for emergency assistance to the Middle East.

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ranking Member of the same subcommittee:

“In real dollars, our international affairs budget has steadily declined while the number of crises worldwide has steadily risen. This needs to change, because the consequence is not only a diminution of U.S. leadership but the exacerbation of problems and threats that greater U.S. engagement could help to prevent. There is nothing partisan about this, and I will work with others in Congress from both parties to protect funding that is essential for our security and a reflection of our values.”

​​USGLC President and CEO, Liz Schrayer:

“With today’s unprecedented global crises, it’s unfathomable to imagine America cutting back further and still keeping pace in protecting our interests. In just the last six years, we have seen a 12% decline and the needs are only growing. If we don’t protect this small, single percent of federal funding for diplomacy and development now, I fear these crises will come to our shores and cost us far more in lives and treasure later.”

Former Senate Majority Leaders Bill Frist (R-TN) and Tom Daschle (D-SD) alongside 16 other former senators in a letter Senate appropriators:

“Over the last six years, the world has changed dramatically—from the rise of ISIS and the historic refugee crisis in the Middle East, to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in Eastern Europe, to growing concerns of pandemic threats. We fear the United States is not keeping pace with these growing challenges and further cuts to International Affairs would only make it more difficult to respond to world events.”

Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Admiral James Stavridis, and former Commander in Chief of U.S. Central Command, Anthony Zinni, in POLITICO last week:

“Here’s the choice before us: We can attempt to ignore the crises we face and turn inward or we can embrace our role as the world’s indispensable leader… Congress must provide strong funding for the International Affairs Budget and no less than current spending for these programs. We fear anything less would be dangerous for our national security and maintaining American global leadership.”

Bill Lane, 40-year veteran of Caterpillar, and Chair Emeritus of the USGLC:

“Hundreds of thousands of U.S. businesses are depending on robust American engagement overseas. The State Department and our development agencies are the key to building new markets and creating new customers for American companies. A cut to these strategic investments abroad is not only dangerous for our security, but equally so for our economy. The worst thing lawmakers could do this week is turn inward and retreat at this critical moment.”

Catholic Relief Services President and CEO, Carolyn Woo:

“America’s diverse faith communities are united in their support for effective U.S. programs that feed the hungry, heal the sick, and meet other immediate and long-term human needs. We can’t cut back on the compassion, dignity, and leadership our country provides to fight extreme poverty across the world. Policymakers have a clear choice this week about the direction of our nation’s moral leadership abroad, by prioritizing the long-term base funding for these critical efforts.”

Ambassador Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, in a Senate hearing last week:

Foreign assistance is a “good return on investment for the United States… We spend quite modest amounts on it.” And he stressed that when tackling the debt, policymakers need to find ways to protect foreign assistance from being the “collateral damage.”

Save the Children President and CEO, Carolyn Miles, and USGLC Co-Chair:

“I’ve never witnessed a scarier time for children to grow up than right now in places like Syria and Iraq, South Sudan, and Ethiopia. Kids are being bombed, facing starvation, and dying from entirely preventable diseases. While our nation’s humanitarian and development programs are unmatched, any cuts this week would deal a huge blow to our efforts to save children’s lives and demonstrate our nation’s highest values.”

As the Senate Appropriations Committee finalizes its allocations this week, Senators Graham and Leahy are convening a Tuesday hearing on violent extremism and the role of foreign assistance. Witnesses include Bono, Cofounder of the ONE Campaign, and General James L. Jones, USMC (Ret.).

With just one percent of the entire U.S. federal budget, the International Affairs Budget supports all of America’s civilian tools to strengthen our national security, build economic prosperity, and demonstrate our nation’s humanitarian values around the world.

For the full USGLC report and breakdown of the Administration’s FY17 request for the International Affairs Budget, visit http://usglc.org/iab2017.

USGLC leaders including Admiral Stavridis, General Zinni, Liz Schrayer, Bill Lane, and Carolyn Miles are available for media interviews this week.

The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (www.usglc.org) is a broad-based influential network of 500 businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic, military, and community leaders in all 50 states who support strategic investments to elevate development and diplomacy alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world.