Lowey statement at subcommittee markup of 2018 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill
Thank you, Chairman Rogers and our full committee chairman, Mr. Frelingyhusen. I appreciate your efforts to include many of my and my colleagues’ priorities in the bill.
I also want to express my appreciation to the Majority staff: Craig Higgins, Susan Adams, Clelia Alvarado, David Bortnick, Winnie Chang, Megan O’Donnell and Alex Pinson; as well as my staff: Steve Marchese, Erin Kolodjeski, Matt Washington, Liz Leibowitz, and Dean Fischer.
I am deeply troubled both by the President’s request and the allocation for this bill, which is $10 billion below the total enacted level in FY 2017.
I appreciate the Chair’s work to sustain unwavering support and robust funding for our close ally and partner Israel, as well as for Jordan, and to maintain our commitment to prioritizing development in the poorest countries.
While the bill rejects many of the most extreme cuts proposed in the President’s budget, the cuts in this bill would make regions less stable and diminish our global leadership by severely reducing or eliminating funding for programs such as multilateral cooperation, international family planning, and climate change.
The bill rejects the proposed elimination of several important agencies, although supporting them at reduced levels. The Asia Foundation, the U.S. Institute for Peace, the Inter-American Foundation, the U.S. African Development Foundation, OPIC, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency serve important functions in the Unites States’ engagement with the world.
The Chair protected funding for Basic Education, Water and Sanitation, Democracy, and Women’s programs, which provide communities the foundations for inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction.
Yet, these prudent choices are dramatically undermined by measures that hinder our shared goals.
This bill expands the Global Gag Rule to all global health programs and prohibits U.S. contributions to UNFPA. If enacted, these restrictions would not only be dangerous for women around the world, but would also decrease the effectiveness of our foreign aid.
While this bill provides $6 billion for embassy security, $1.9 billion ABOVE the President’s request, it would still cut embassy security by 21% from the FY2017 enacted level, a decision I struggle to understand given the current international landscape. The Security Assistance Appropriations Act of 2017 prioritized the operational and security needs of U.S. diplomatic facilities overseas, so I am confused as to how the safety of U.S. personnel is no longer a priority to the Administration.
Additionally, decreases in assistance to multilateral organizations, including an 18.4% cut to our UN contributions and failure to meet our obligations for assessed peacekeeping contributions would send a signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. no longer keeps its word. This bill would also end all funding to the International Organizations and Programs account, ending U.S. support for critical agencies, such as UNDP and UN Women.
The hope may be that other nations will fill these gaps. But we risk the void being filled by those who oppose our values and interests.
In recent years, humanitarian needs have taken a larger proportion of our limited resources. However, we prioritize short-term needs over longer term strategies at our peril.
Working in partnerships and addressing the root causes of instability are our only chance for preventing greater, and costlier, humanitarian crises in the future. We best serve the American taxpayers with robust investments in a comprehensive development strategy today, not arbitrary cuts that will hurt the most vulnerable in the world for generations to come.
Again, I thank the Chair and look forward to working with my colleagues to improve this bill. I intend to withhold offering any amendments today, but will offer what I hope will be bipartisan changes at full committee.