Diaz-Balart Remarks at FY24 Budget Hearing for the Department of State (As Prepared)

Mar 23, 2023

Mr. Secretary, thank you for being here today to discuss the fiscal year 2024 budget request for the Department of State, and thank you for your service to our country.

Before I get to the budget, I want to start by raising concerns on what I believe have been serious blunders that have damaged relationships with our allies and emboldened some of the most dangerous, anti-American actors throughout the world.

Here are some examples.

The abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan resulted in the creation of 13 new Gold Star families and the horrific abandonment of those who risked their lives to help us.

Now, women and girls are trapped in their homes, unable to receive an education, and are raped, maimed, or killed if they dare to attempt to earn a living, read a book, or walk outside without a male escort.

It will take decades for Afghanistan to regain the progress that it took 20 years to build, and I fear even longer to regain our reputation with those who might be inclined to help us in the future.

Communist China steals intellectual property, has an expansive espionage network in the United States, threatens its neighbors, unleashed a pandemic that killed more than a million Americans with no accountability and no assistance in finding the origin, and continues funding its military at an alarming rate.  Now they are deepening their alliance with Russia.

North Korea has again resumed its dangerous and irresponsible missile tests.

After failed attempts at yet another deeply flawed “Iran deal”, the terrorist state of Iran is on the verge of becoming a nuclear power. Saudi Arabia and Iran re-established relations, brokered by China.

As to our hemisphere— Colombia and the repressive Maduro dictatorship are deepening their relationship to the detriment of the Venezuelan and Colombian people, and the security of the region. Fentanyl is flowing into our country at unprecedented levels and killing our kids.

And around the globe we are giving unilateral concessions to the enemies of freedom, such as diplomacy with Maduro and weakened sanctions on the petroleum industry. Despite historic protests in Cuba in July 2021, this administration did little more than lip service to support them and so many others struggling for freedom from tyranny. 

And, meanwhile putting pressure on our allies such as the Dominican Republic and Guatemala.

You might try to paint a rosy picture, but these are the facts as they are.

These issues are of such great concern to me because I believe American leadership remains indispensable, as do our alliances and security partnerships, in helping to keep the peace in an increasingly dangerous world.

At this time in history, our strategic priorities should be clear— 

In Europe, we must continue strengthening our alliances, and one way that we strengthen alliances is by ensuring transparency and accountability for every dollar, and sharing the burden to jointly provide Ukraine with the military equipment and other tools that it needs to defeat Russia and win the war.

In the Indo-Pacific, we must urgently strengthen our defense posture and collective deterrence to advance regional peace and security – including by helping to provide Taiwan with the capabilities it needs to prevent or defeat aggression by Communist China.

In the Middle East, we must continue to support our staunch ally Israel, degrade ISIS, build on the Abraham Accords, and prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and cease their practice of exporting terrorism through proxies like Hezbollah.

Another priority must be standing up for human freedom and the democratic principles we all share.

It is essential for the U.S. to stand with those who courageously struggle for freedom, individual liberty, and democracy in some of the world's most oppressive political environments – including Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.

Turning to the budget, we are all aware of the nation’s fiscal challenges and this Committee is uniquely responsible for being good stewards of the people’s hard-earned money. 

The President’s fiscal year 2024 budget request for State and USAID misses the mark.  The annual increases requested by this Administration have been rejected in Congress even by the President’s own party, year-after-year. 

Proposing yet another large increase to a Republican House in such a difficult fiscal environment strikes me as willfully unrealistic.  It also sets untenable expectations abroad.

In the weeks ahead, this Subcommittee will scrub every line of the budget proposal to determine what funding is directly tied to U.S. national security.  We will write a bill that is focused, strategic, and aimed at addressing the top foreign policy priorities for our country.

What will not be funded are controversial, woke programs that tarnish the reputation of America abroad.  The State Department must end its efforts to export a radical political agenda on issues that divide Americans at home.

Not only do these programs stir controversy and divisions in the countries where they take place, they further diminish support for foreign aid here at home, and at a time, Mr. Secretary, when you are going to need all the help you can get. 

Mr. Secretary, in closing, I want to thank you again for being here, and I also want to thank the men and women of the Department of State for their hard work on behalf of all Americans.