Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Administrator Samantha Power’s Opening Statement at the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Budget Hearing

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Thank you Chairman Coons, Ranking Member Graham, Senator Durbin, good to see you, incoming distinguished Members of the Subcommittee. I am grateful, above all, for your leadership as Chair and Ranking, and that of your teams. You have an oversight role, but honestly you have a brainstorming, a collaboration, a how do we stare at the puzzle and the predicament of a confluence of crises, together, and come up with tools that are fit for purpose in the here and now. I really feel like we are one team.

I am grateful for the chance to discuss the Fiscal Year 2023 President’s Budget Request for the U.S. Agency for International Development, and I look forward to having the chance to wade into some of the issues that you’ve touched upon in your opening statements.

But I think, echoing a couple of the points that have been made, I’d like to just step back and try to frame the discussion ahead by starting with the idea… I think it is no overstatement that right now, right here, we are gathering at a juncture in our history, at an inflection point. 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, horrifically, in recent days in Ukraine, autocracies have grown increasingly brazen, claiming that they can get done for their people, things with a speed and an efficiency that they claim democracies lack. Taking advantage of our open systems also, to meddle. And that’s true of countries with democratic environments all around the world.

We see with what Putin is doing in Ukraine, just how empty that rhetoric is, just how dark the road to and from autocracy is. Putin’s brutal war on a peaceful neighbor in Ukraine; 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 and catalyze the efforts of our allies, the private sector, and our multilateral institutions, if we can marshal the resources necessary to help partner nations and freedom-loving, freedom-coveting populations, 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 more than six decades ago, and to reiterate, I am so truly grateful to you for your continued bipartisan support of our efforts to save lives, to strengthen economies, to prevent fragility and conflict, and to promote resilience to all of these shocks that we have been discussing already here today; as well as your support in helping bolster freedom around the world. USAID’s work is a testament to the fact that America, and the American people, care 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 the American people here at home—it makes us safer, it makes us more prosperous, and it engenders goodwill that strengthens alliances and global cooperation.

Thanks to your past support, the US has helped get more than half a billion COVID-19 vaccines to people in 115 countries; we’ve led life-saving humanitarian and disaster responses in 68 countries, including Haiti, Ethiopia, and Ukraine; we’ve 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 a much more nimble Agency at a time of immense demands that you all have alluded to, shoring up a depleted workforce by welcoming new recruits, and operating with greater flexibility, including some that you have afforded us in the recent appropriations cycle.

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. Last week, with bipartisan support, you passed a nearly $40 billion package for Ukraine that will provide vital assistance to our support of displaced peoples, to the country’s recovery, and to the secondary effects on food, fuel and fertilizer that we’re witnessing as a result of the Russian Federation’s belligerence. And your bipartisan support for a robust FY23 topline for the State Foreign Operations Senate bill will help us meet this moment and advance American interests and the critical foreign policy and development priorities before us.

The challenges of course, in Ukraine and beyond are significant. Putin’s war has displaced more than 14 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 an already overwhelmed international system—up to 40 million additional people could be pushed into poverty and food insecurity in 2022 due Putin’s war.

Two difficult years of the COVID-19 pandemic have set back development gains, and despite the United States’ leadership in vaccinating the world—leadership which has accrued such benefit to the health of citizens in the countries in which we work, but also indirect benefit to the American people—that job remains unfinished. Multi-billion dollar climate shocks appear each year with more frequency. And these challenges only compound suffering in places where there are already humanitarian crises like Ethiopia, Syria, and Yemen. Yet as grave as these challenges are, I sincerely believe this opportunity, this moment, this point of inflection provides us a huge opportunity to meet the moment and meet the needs to advance US foreign policy objectives. By providing the resources necessary to seize this moment, the United States can galvanize commitments from our allies and our private sector partners, we can help reverse years of democratic decline and we can demonstrate to the world that democracies can deliver in a way that autocracies certainly cannot.

With your support, USAID will move aggressively to seize this opportunity.

Thank you so much Mr. Chairman.

Samantha Power FY 2023 Senate Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

Samantha Power

Administrator Samantha Power


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