Diaz-Balart Remarks At FY24 Budget Hearing For The United States Agency For International Development (As Prepared)
Administrator Power, thank you for being here today to discuss the fiscal year 2024 budget request for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Before I get into the details of the budget, I want to take a moment to thank the men and women of USAID, including the Foreign Service Nationals and the staff of your implementing partners, for their efforts to make the world a better place.
We don't say it enough, but we appreciate their service, and yours, Administrator Power, so please convey those thanks on behalf of our Subcommittee.
Turning to the budget, the President’s request includes $32 billion in USAID fully- or partially-managed accounts, which represents a 10% increase over FY23 enacted. I will share with you what I told Secretary Blinken and Secretary Yellen last month—proposing increases of this magnitude yet again, to a Republican House, when the President’s own party has rejected this level of spending every year, is completely unrealistic.
It also sets untenable expectations abroad and hurts U.S. credibility.
We only need to look at the President’s brazen climate pledges in 2021 to see the impact of what happens when Congress is not consulted and overcommitments are made to the rest of the world.
In the absence of appropriations in support of these pledges, the Administration now attributes funding from many unrelated development and health activities to climate change. Not only is this sure to disappoint the climate advocates the President is trying to appease, but even worse, it also makes foreign aid much more controversial and difficult to defend to the majority of Americans.
This is because, as you and I have discussed, most Americans know that throwing money at climate change will do nothing to reduce global temperatures since the world’s largest CO2 emitters, like Communist China, are doing whatever they want.
In reviewing the USAID request, I had hoped to see the strategic focus and clear priorities in support of our top foreign policy and development challenges. Instead, this request appears to be an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach, and I hope this hearing will help us drill down on priorities and areas where U.S. funds are demonstrating measurable impact.
We cannot with a straight face say that all U.S. economic and development dollars are yielding positive results. So, what I am interested in, and what my team is working on as we speak, is identifying what is working and what is not.
If it is not working, we can no longer afford to fund it. It’s as simple as that. We also should not be funding controversial programs that tarnish the American taxpayer’s view of foreign aid and of USAID.
Let’s get back to basics. Promoting American values of freedom and democracy is not partisan. Supporting a families’ ability to provide for themselves, send their kids to school, and stay safe and healthy is not partisan.
I am proud of the work our country has done, through USAID, to support communities and families in times of disaster and humanitarian crises, and in the face of authoritarianism and threats to freedom in democracy by demonstrating the generosity and compassion of the American people.
This should not be partisan.
There are clearly great needs, but we must recognize fiscal realities and be realistic about what the U.S. can and should accomplish, and where the private sector and other donor countries can play a role.
As former President Reagan said, “the size of the Federal budget is not an appropriate barometer of social conscience or charitable concern.”
So, I would ask you, Administrator Power, to get back to the basics and focus on the core mission of USAID.
We want to be partners in this work and there is certainly much to be done around the world.
I appreciate the work that you have done, over your long career, in service to this country, and I look forward to your testimony.