Clinton's comments before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 2/24/10

Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release                                                                                                                    February 24, 2010


Opening Remarks by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

February 24, 2010
Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Senator Lugar, members of the committee.  It’s a real pleasure to be back here in the Senate to be with all of you and participate in this important hearing.  When I was last here to discuss our budget, I emphasized my commitment to elevating diplomacy and development as core pillars of American power.  And since then, I have been heartened by the bipartisan support of this committee and the rest of Congress.  I want to thank the Chairman and the Ranking Member and all of the members for your bipartisan support in moving State Department nominees; 114 were confirmed in 2009.  We are now looking to get up and get nominated for your consideration the leadership team at AID and we are very grateful for the expeditious support and we hope they can move quickly when they hit the floor.  But I thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.  And let me also take this opportunity to express appreciation on behalf of the men and women who work every day at the State Department, at USAID, here in our country and around the world, to put our foreign policy into action.

The budget we are presenting today is designed to protect America and Americans and to advance our interests and values.  Our fiscal year 2011 request for the State Department and USAID totals $52.8 billion.  That is a $4.9 billion increase over 2010.  But as the Chairman has pointed out, of that increase, $3.6 billion will go to supporting efforts in “frontline states” – Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.  Other funding will grow by $1.3 billion, which is a 2.7 percent increase that will help address global challenges, strengthen partnerships, and ensure that the State Department and USAID are equipped with the right people and resources.

Over the past six weeks in Haiti, we have been reminded yet again of the importance of American leadership.  I’m very proud of what our country has done, and we will continue to work with our Haitian and international partners to address ongoing suffering and transition from relief to recovery.

But I am also acutely aware that this is a time of great economic strain for many of our fellow Americans.  As a former senator, I know what this means for the people you represent every single day.  So for every dollar we spend, as Senator Lugar said, we have to show results.  That is why this budget must support programs vital to our national security, our national interests, and our leadership in the world, while guarding against waste, duplication, irrelevancy.  And I believe that we have achieved those objectives in this budget.

Now, these figures are more than numbers on a page. They tell the story of challenges we face and the resources needed to overcome them.

We are fighting two wars that call on the skill and sacrifice of our civilians as well as our troops.  We have pursued a dual-track approach to Iran that has exposed its refusal to live up to its responsibilities and helped us achieve a new unity with our international partners.  Iran has left the international community with little choice but to impose greater costs for its provocative steps.  And we are now working actively with our partners to prepare and implement new measures to pressure Iran to change its course.

We have also achieved unprecedented unity in our response to North Korea’s provocative actions, even as we leave the door open for a restart of the Six-Party Talks. And we are moving closer by the day to a fresh nuclear agreement with Russia – one that advances our security while furthering President Obama’s long-term vision of a world without nuclear weapons.

With China, we seek areas of common purpose while standing firm where we differ.  We are making concrete our new beginning with the Muslim world.  We are strengthening partnerships with allies in Europe and Asia, with friends in our hemisphere, and with countries around the world, from India to Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil, and Turkey.  And we are working under the leadership of former Senator George Mitchell to end the impasse between Israelis and Palestinians.

At the same time, we are developing a new architecture of cooperation to meet transnational global challenges like climate change and the use of our planet’s oceans.  With regard to the latter, I want to reiterate my support for U.S. accession to the Convention on the Law of the Sea.  Our country stands to gain immensely from this treaty.  Everything we know from what we are picking up with respect to other countries’ use of the tools under the Law of the Sea demonstrates that we will lose out, in economic and resource rights, in terms of environmental interests, and national security.

In so many instances, our national interest and the common interest converge.  We are promoting human rights, from Africa to Asia to the Middle East; the rule of law, democracy, internet freedom.  We are fighting poverty, hunger, and disease; and we are working to ensure that economic growth is broadly shared, principally by addressing the role of girls and women.  And I want to applaud the Chairman and the subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer for putting this issue on the map of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Now, our agenda is ambitious because our times demand it.  America is called to lead – I think we all believe that – and therefore we need the tools and the resources in the 21st century to exercise that leadership wisely and effectively.  We can bury our heads in the sand and pay the consequences later, or we can make hard-nosed, targeted investments now.

Let me just highlight three areas where we are making significant new investments.

First, the security of frontline states.

In Afghanistan, we have tripled the number of civilians on the ground.  Civilians are embedded with our troops in Marjah in the combat operations going on.  As soon as an area is cleared, they are part of the American team, along with our international allies, who go in to hold and build.   Our diplomats and development experts are helping to build institutions, expand economic opportunities, and provide meaningful alternatives for insurgents ready to renounce violence and join their fellow Afghans in the pursuit of peace.

In Pakistan, our request includes $3.2 billion to combat extremism, promote economic development, strengthen democratic institutions, and build a long-term relationship with the Pakistani people.  That is the vision of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman initiative, and this includes funding for that.  And I want to thank you again, Mr. Chairman and Senator Lugar, for your leadership.  Our request also includes a 59 percent increase in funding for Yemen, Senator Feingold, to help counter the extremist threat and build institutions and economic opportunity.

In Iraq, we are winding down our military presence and establishing a more normal civilian mission.  Our civilian efforts will not and cannot mirror the scale of our military presence, but rather they must provide assistance consistent with the priorities of the Iraqi Government.  So our request includes $2.6 billion for Iraq.  These are resources that will allow us to support the democratic process and ensure a smooth transition to civilian-led security training and operational support.  As these funds allow civilians to take full responsibility for programs, the Defense budget for Iraq will be decreasing by about $16 billion. That is a powerful illustration of the return on civilian investment and illustrates the point that the Chairman was making that this is really part of the security budget for the United States and should be seen as part of that whole.

We are blessed with the best troops in the world, as we have seen time and time again.  But we also need to give our civilian experts the resources to do the civilian jobs.  And this budget takes a step in that direction.  It includes $100 million for a State Department complex crisis fund – replacing the 1207 fund through which the Defense Department directed money toward crisis response.  And it includes support for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund, which previously fell under the Defense Department as well.  Secretary Gates and I are working literally hand-in-hand and are committed to having a seamless relationship between the Defense Department and the State Department and USAID to further American security.

The second major area is investing in development.  And this budget makes targeted investments in fragile societies – which, in our interconnected world, bear heavily on our own security and prosperity.  These investments are a key part of our effort to get ahead of crisis rather than just responding to it, positioning us to deal effectively with threats and challenges that lie ahead.

The first of these is in health.  Building on our success in treating HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis, our Global Health Initiative will invest $63 billion over six years, starting with $8.5 billion in FY11, to help our partners address specific diseases and, equally importantly, build strong, sustainable health systems as they do.

The Administration has also pledged to invest at least $3.5 billion in food security over three years, and this year’s request includes $1.6 billion, of which $1.2 billion is funded through the State Department.  And I greatly appreciate the work that Senator Lugar and Senator Casey have done to help target the United States effort when it comes to global hunger and food security.  So this funding will focus on countries that have developed effective, comprehensive strategies, where agriculture is central to prosperity and hunger remains widespread.

On climate change, we could not agree with the Chairman more.  Therefore, we have requested $646 million to promote the United States as a leader in green technology and to leverage other leaders’ cooperation – including through the Copenhagen Accord, which for the first time, to underscore the Chairman’s point, brings developing and developed countries together.  This is such an important initiative.  We need leadership from the rest of the world.  This is an opportunity for us to push this initiative and to ensure that we have support to give to core climate change activities and to spread the burden among other countries so that they share part of  the responsibility in meeting this global challenge.

The budget also includes $4.2 billion for humanitarian assistance programs.  Our efforts in Haiti have made clear that State and USAID must be able to respond quickly and effectively.

All of these initiatives are designed to enhance American security, help people in need, and give the American people a strong return on their investments.  Our aim is not to create dependency.  We don’t want to just pass out fish; we want to teach people to fish.  And we want to help our partners devise solutions they can sustain over the long term.  And essential to this is a focus on advancing equality and opportunity for women and girls.  They are the key drivers for economic and social progress.

And that brings me to our third area that I want to highlight.  None of this can happen if we do not recruit, train, and empower the right people for the job.

The State Department and USAID are full of talented, committed public servants, but unfortunately, we have too often failed to give them the tools they need to carry out their missions on the ground.  Rather than building their expertise, we have too often relied on contractors, sometimes with little oversight and often with greater cost to the American taxpayer.

This budget will allow us to expand the Foreign Service by over 600 positions, including an additional 410 positions for the State Department and 200 for USAID.  It will also allow us to staff the standby element of the Civilian Reserve Corps, a critical tool for responding to crises.

Now, while deploying these personnel generates new expenses in some accounts, it does reduce expenses in others by changing the way we do business.  We are ending an over-reliance on contractors and finding opportunities to save money by bringing these functions into government and improving oversight.

So Mr. Chairman, one thing should be very clear from this budget:  The State Department and USAID are taking a lead in carrying out the United States foreign policy and national security agenda.  As we finish the first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, and as the White House finishes the coordination of the Presidential Directive, we have a unique opportunity to define the capabilities we need and then to match resources with priorities. 

The QDDR will help ensure that we are more effective and accountable.  And I want to thank all of you for your individual contributions on so many of these issues that are important not only to your constituents but to our country and the world.  And Mr. Chairman, I look forward to continuing to work closely with this committee and I would be pleased to take your questions. 

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