Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Opening Statement of Administrator Samantha Power to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Thank you so much Chairman Menendez, Ranking Member Risch, and distinguished members of the Committee, Senator Johnson, Senator Cardin, Senator Kaine, and others who will join us. I do look forward to having the chance to respond to some of what you, Mr. Chairman and you, Ranking Member Risch have said in your opening statements, but let me use mine if I could just to frame the discussion that I hope we can have over the next couple of hours. I would like to start by saying it is no overstatement to say we are gathering at a profound juncture in history.

For 16 straight years, we have seen the number of people living under democratic rule decline—the world is now less free and less peaceful than at any point since the end of the Cold War. And for several years as we have seen vividly, graphically, and horrifically, in recent days in Ukraine, autocracies have grown increasingly brazen, on the world stage, claiming that they can get things done for their people with a speed and effectiveness that they say democracies cannot match.

Today, we see just how empty that rhetoric is, and just how dark the road to autocracy can be, from Vladimir Putin’s brutal war on a peaceful neighbor in Ukraine to the People’s Republic of China’s campaign of genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang. Now, with autocracies on their back heel, now is the moment for the world’s democracies to unite and take a big step forward after so many years of losing ground.

If the world’s free nations, with the United States in the lead, are able to unite the efforts of our allies, the private sector, and our multilateral institutions, and marshal the resources necessary to help partner nations, we have a chance to extend the reach of peace, prosperity, and human dignity to billions more people.

This has been USAID’s mission since its inception six decades ago, and I am truly grateful to you for your continued bipartisan support of our efforts to save lives, strengthen economies, prevent fragility and conflict, promote resilience, and to bolster freedom around the world. USAID’s work is a testament to the fact that America cares about the plight of others, that we can competently accomplish mammoth goals that no other country can, and that the work we do abroad also matters to Americans here at home—it makes us safer, it makes us more prosperous, and it engenders goodwill that strengthens alliances and global cooperation, and creates a better future for generations to come.

Thanks to your past support, the United States has helped get more than half a billion COVID-19 vaccines to people in 115 countries; we have led life-saving humanitarian and disaster responses in 68 countries, including Haiti, Ethiopia, and Ukraine; helped enhance pathways for legal migration to the United States while working to strengthen worker protections; and we’ve assisted the relocation and resettlement of Afghan colleagues and refugees under the most dire of circumstances, while pivoting our programming in Afghanistan to address ongoing food insecurity and public health needs, and continuing to push to keep women and girls in school. We are also making strides to become much more nimble as an Agency at a time of immense demands, shoring up a depleted workforce by welcoming new recruits, and operating with greater flexibility.

The Biden-Harris Administration’s FY 2023 discretionary request of $29.4 billion will build on these steps forward, giving us the ability to invest in the people and systems to meet the world’s most significant challenges so the United States can seize this moment in history. Last night, with bipartisan support, the House took a major step in that direction by passing a nearly $40 billion package for Ukraine and we are hopeful for its speedy passage in the Senate.

Yet the challenges we face are significant. Putin’s war has displaced more than 13 million people, including two-thirds of Ukraine’s children. It has led to serious disruptions to global food, fuel, and fertilizer supplies around the world, further taxing the already overwhelmed international humanitarian system. Two difficult years of the COVID-19 pandemic have set back development gains, and despite the United States’ leadership in vaccinating the world, that job remains unfinished. Multi-billion dollar climate shocks appear each year with more frequency. And continued humanitarian crises remain in Ethiopia and elsewhere.

Yet as grave as the challenges are, I sincerely believe the opportunity before us is even larger. By providing the resources necessary to seize this moment, the United States can galvanize commitments from our allies and our private sector partners, and demonstrate to the world that democracies can deliver in a way that autocracies cannot. These actions are key to reversing years of democratic decline and creating a more stable, peaceful, prosperous, future for people at home and abroad.

With your support, USAID will move aggressively to grasp this opportunity to build that brighter future for us all. Thank you so much.

Samantha Power Senate Committee on Foreign Relations FY 2023

Samantha Power

Administrator Samantha Power


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