March 15, 2019
Chairwoman Lowey, Ranking Member Rogers: On behalf of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition – a network of over 500 businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, military, and civic leaders from across the country – thank you for the opportunity to testify about the important resources provided in the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill that are critical to protect our nation, promote our economy, advance our values, and uphold America’s leadership role in the world. Today, I ask that the Committee provide $57.4 billion for the FY20 SFOPS 302(b) allocation.
Our coalition appreciates your longstanding leadership and uncompromising support for America’s development and diplomacy programs, including your work to prevent deep and disproportionate cuts to these programs over the past two years. The final appropriation for the FY19 State-Foreign Operations bill of $54.1 billion – a slight increase compared to the FY18 enacted level – holds the line at a critical moment for America’s leadership around the world.
Given the strong bipartisan support for the International Affairs Budget among military, business, humanitarian, and faith-based leaders around the country – as well as bipartisan Members of Congress – it is deeply concerning that the Administration’s FY20 budget proposes to slash a quarter of America’s civilian footprint in the world. However, I am confident that Congress will pronounce the FY20 request as “strike three” and take decisive action to restore funding for these critical programs to the FY17 total enacted level of $57.4 billion.
Protecting National Security
As you know well, today America is confronting unprecedented threats abroad – from an expansionist China to continued violent extremism to a resurgent Ebola – all of which have a direct impact on our national security and economic interests here at home.
Our military leaders are the first to say that hard power alone is not enough to keep America safe. Earlier this week, more than a dozen of our most elite military leaders – former Commanders from all six of our nation’s regional combatant commands in the Middle East, Latin America, Europe, Africa, the Pacific, and North America – issued a joint statement urging the Congress to protect resources for America’s International Affairs Budget, asserting that “Doing so is critical to keeping our nation safe and prosperous.”
These retired military leaders join America’s current Combatant Commanders who have testified before Congress in recent weeks about the strategic importance of the State Department, USAID, and other development agencies as key partners around the world to protect U.S. interests and values.
The Administration’s proposed 24% cut to these programs – while at the same time proposing to increase military spending – represents a dramatic break with decades of bipartisan consensus that development and diplomacy are also key pillars of U.S. national security.
Advancing the U.S. Economy
America also faces tremendous opportunities around the world. With 95% of consumers living outside of our country, it is clear that our economic prosperity and a strong economic future for our children depend on building new markets for American products overseas. Investments in global development – including agriculture, infrastructure, health, education, and the rule of law – contribute to stability and establish an enabling environment for American businesses to thrive. That’s a return on investment for taxpayers that’s good for our country now, and even better for our future.
With countries like China outpacing the U.S. in international investments and engagement, we cannot afford to get left behind. For example, China has already pledged more than one trillion dollars to its Belt and Road Initiative – seven times the size of the Marshall Plan in real dollars – to further strengthen its economic ties and access to emerging economies across Asia and Africa. China has also surpassed the U.S. as the leading trading partner for several South American countries, including Brazil, the continent’s largest economy.
China has dramatically expanded its competitive playing field and is certainly playing to win. I was just in Africa, and China’s footprint is everywhere. Our own engagement overseas needs to be active and competitive. The new Development Finance Corporation authorized by the bipartisan BUILD Act will do just that by strengthening America’s development finance toolkit.
Promoting Our Values
America is a generous nation – and we can be proud of our longstanding leadership in helping those in need around the world. From the 17 million lives saved through PEPFAR to the more than 23 million people that have been lifted out of poverty through Feed the Future, these programs showcase the best of our values and ideals: compassion, a belief in human dignity and, most of all, an effective approach of sustained impact by providing a hand up – not a handout.
Providing humanitarian assistance isn’t just something we do, it’s a reflection of who we are as Americans. As Archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Reverend Samuel Rodriguez recently wrote, “American foreign assistance is among the most cost-effective and compassionate commitments our government makes . . . [they are] critical programs that save and celebrate life. Let us be that shining city on a hill; there remains good works to be done.”
Building on Bipartisan Reforms
America can be proud of the legacy of strong bipartisan support in Congress for the International Affairs Budget – and for the longstanding commitment to effective, accountable, transparent, and results-driven international programs. The 115th Congress passed nearly a dozen pieces of bipartisan legislation that strengthen foreign assistance programs – from food security to women’s empowerment to basic education. I am confident the 116th Congress will continue to build on this impressive progress, which we have already seen with the introduction of new legislation addressing issues such as the root causes of fragility and using diplomacy to bolster American business competitiveness.
These efforts are working. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and USAID were ranked first and second across the federal government by the 2018 Federal Invest in What Works Index for their use of data and evidence to inform policy and management decisions. Additionally, nearly 100% of foreign assistance is publicly available online on the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, allowing Americans to see exactly where their tax dollars are going.
The Administration’s FY20 budget includes funding for the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP), a new policy agenda led by Ivanka Trump to empower women economically around the world. This initiative builds on the passage of the bipartisan Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act last year. These are the types of investments – along with those that combat hunger and poverty, provide health services and educational opportunities, and promote civic and political participation – that build a better, safer, more prosperous world.
Foreign Assistance Is Delivering Results
It is one thing to talk about development programs as lines in a ledger. It’s another thing to see how these programs are delivering results for the American people. Like all of you on this subcommittee who travel abroad, I recently returned from a visit to Sub-Sahara Africa. It was there that I saw the power of our development and diplomacy programs – how our investments are not just saving lives, but how they are making America safer and more prosperous. Just a few highlights to share:
As you know, Madam Chairwoman and Ranking Member Rogers, the world is a challenging and complicated place. But this small investment that you oversee is making a big difference for the American people – promoting security, advancing our economic interests, and demonstrating our values.
Ensuring Strong Funding
I am grateful for your unwavering support of the International Affairs Budget. Building on your leadership and the strong investments approved in FY19, I urge you to restore funding for the State-Foreign Operations bill to the FY17 total enacted level of $57.4 billion.
I also ask that you work with your colleagues to reach a new bipartisan budget deal that increases the cap on non-defense discretionary spending in FY20. This is the only way to ensure strong funding for the International Affairs Budget in FY20.
The Administration’s budget proposal might be strike three, but I’m confident Congress will stay in the game. The USGLC looks forward to working with you in the coming weeks and months as we step up to bat for America’s global leadership.
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.