Chairwoman Lee Statement at Subcommittee Markup of Fiscal Year 2023 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Funding Bill

2022-06-27 10:29

Congresswoman Lee (D-CA), Chair of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's markup of its fiscal year 2023 bill:

This evening, we are gathering to consider the fiscal year 2023 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill.  The bill provides $64.57 billion in new discretionary budget authority, which is $8.5 billion above the fiscal year 2022 enacted level and $1.76 billion below the fiscal year 2023 request.  The resources provided through this bill to diplomatic, development, and humanitarian efforts enables the United States to be on the front lines every single day working to save lives, promote stability, and increase engagement. 

I have appreciated the sincere and constructive input of my colleagues in the crafting of this bill.  This year we received over 6,800 requests, reinforcing just how important our global programs are to addressing today’s many challenges.   I also want to thank our Chair, Rosa DeLauro, for recognizing the importance of these investments and providing increased resources to our topline.

 I am proud of the historic investment of over $11 billion that the FY23 House bill includes for global health, a field where U.S. leadership is literally saving lives every day.  The bill provides $2 billion to support the United States pledge to the upcoming seventh replenishment for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  The United States hosting this replenishment conference, and the strong support provided in the bill, will set this critical institution on the path to solidify the gains the world has made against these three diseases and in ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic once and for all.  The United States’ role in this fight cannot be understated, and I hope each member feels both a sense of accomplishment and urgency to finish the job. 

Nevertheless, the devasting COVID-19 pandemic showed how fragile all of our development gains truly are.  That is why the bill also invests $1 billion into global health security programming and bolsters additional programming in maternal health, tuberculosis, nutrition, and family planning, which are central to healthy and strong communities.  We know diseases don’t respect borders, so it is in our own interest to have strong, functioning health systems accessible to everyone, both domestically and globally.

The pandemic also caused significant economic and social harm.  The development investments in this bill are crucial to reversing the damage and get back to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, including eliminating extreme poverty, achieving an AIDS-free generation, and supporting efforts to build inclusive, equitable, and accountable societies for everyone.

The House bill also prioritizes the resources, programs, and policies for the protection and advancement of women and girls.  Neglecting the reproductive health care of women will limit any progress we can make in providing economic opportunity or bolstering women’s political leadership.  More needs to be done to recognize the ongoing injustice felt by half the population who disproportionately bears the burden of poverty, poor health, violence, and climate change.  The funding in this bill moves us in the right direction.

We are also increasing our commitment to combating the climate crisis, including a $1.6 billion contribution to the Green Climate Fund and an additional $1.6 billion for bilateral climate programs.  We are, quite literally, running out of time.  Climate change is only becoming more expensive, more dangerous, and more devastating to the planet, with deadly effects here at home and overseas. Nowhere is this more true than for small island developing states in the Caribbean, who have special vulnerabilities we help address in this bill. 

The bill also supports rebuilding our nation’s diplomatic and development workforce, one that reflects the diversity of the American people.  We build on the strides made last year to provide increased funding, authority, and guidance to push the agencies under our jurisdiction to move faster and be more bold in addressing the entrenched institutional barriers to diversity.

Lastly, the House mark affirms our support for key allies and partners around the world, including Israel and Jordan; assists countries facing down Russian aggression; and provides strategic support for our neighbors in Central America.  We heard from members, and our bill reflects, the importance of supporting the people of Central America by addressing corruption, combating violence against women and standing up for human rights.

I was pleased to be able to participate in the Summit of the Americas a few weeks ago and this bill supports a renewed focus on our own Hemisphere and the commitments made by the Administration at the Summit, including the needs of our neighbors in the Caribbean that have too often been neglected. 

The bill also reaffirms strong support for achieving a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and increases our humanitarian and economic assistance for the Palestinian people.  We also provide support for Africa and the countries in the Indo-Pacific as we have a mutual interest in deeper and stronger partnerships for the future. 

Colleagues, when we hosted UN Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield a few weeks ago, I reminded us of Secretary Blinken’s quote “We’re always better off at the table, not outside the room.”  The SFOPS bill is about showing up.  Showing up for allies, such as in Ukraine; showing up for the most vulnerable, such as the people in the Horn of Africa facing the worst drought in 40 years; and showing up to advocate for U.S. interests and values, such as at the United Nations or the multilateral development banks.  Dialogue and engagement are always the most promising path forward, even when there are deep disagreements.  This is how progress is made and I am proud to say that the fiscal year 2023 House mark for the State Department, foreign operations and related programs puts the resources behind this commitment.

Before I close, I want to recognize the collaboration and friendship of a colleague on the SFOPS Subcommittee.  David Price and I have served on this Subcommittee together for many years and his commitment to the agencies and issues addressed in this bill is known to us all.  It is my great honor to announce a new legislative strengthening program, named after Chairman Price, in the FY23 House mark.  His commitment to bringing citizens together and building the role of legislative bodies in developing democracies will be known for years to come despite his departure from this Subcommittee and the Congress. 

One reminder before I turn to Ranking Member Rogers for his opening remarks. We are scheduled to consider this bill in the Full Committee next week, so I would request that any amendments be reserved until then.

Mr. Rogers, thank you for your cooperation, and that of your staff, in the work of this Subcommittee.

117th Congress