USAID Administrator Samantha Power Opening Statement on the FY 2022 Budget Request to the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

Speeches Shim

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Thank you, Chairman Coons, Ranking Member Graham, and members of the Subcommittee. Special thanks also to Tim Rieser and Paul Grove who are legends for the work that they do along with their staffs to pull this budget together every year.

Let me start there and just express deep, deep gratitude as a citizen who’s been on the sidelines the last four years for the continued bipartisan support for the work we do at USAID. It’s reflected in both of your opening statements, it’s reflected in the budgets that were secured over these last years, and I just could not be more grateful. It’s also critically important as you’ve indicated for the world. I think you have -- both of you and this committee have long recognized that diplomacy, defense, and development are vital components of our foreign policy. President Biden does as well, which is reflected in the discretionary budget request, and in his decision to elevate the USAID Administrator to become a standing member of the National Security Council.

Our investments in development and humanitarian assistance have grown even more necessary in light of today’s challenges. A persistent pandemic has left 3.5 million dead, at least, and swelled the ranks of the extreme poor for the first time since the late 1990s. It has also exposed the pervasive inequities that continue to fray societies across the globe. Authoritarian regimes like China and Russia are acting more aggressively each year, exploiting not only the COVID-19 emergency, but vulnerabilities in our democracies. A rapidly changing climate is sending fiercer storms our way and inflicting droughts, deep freezes, and wildfires upon communities. Mass displacement is at its highest since World War II. Every day in fact, and Senator Coons, I’m assuming you have this experience as well but when you read the news, it seems as though a new horrific crisis has emerged, such as that in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, where Ethiopians are facing the worst food insecurity the country has seen since the 1983-84 famine killed over 1 million people. And of course, against this backdrop, China is increasingly using its financial power as leverage to advance its interests.

These are obviously not positive developments, but as an American, I am very glad that USAID, the world's premier development agency, is uniquely positioned to confront the world’s toughest problems and to catalyze our partners to do the same. The steps we take to combat COVID-19, climate change, conflict, and other ills abroad, make us safer, while demonstrating compassion for, and cooperation with, people all over the world.

When we fight COVID abroad, we reduce the risk of variants that can lead to outbreaks at home. When incomes rise in the developing world, these countries become more self-reliant and less dependent on U.S. or other donor support. When the U.S. delivers aid to those affected by natural disasters and humanitarian crises, we demonstrate the best of American values and build goodwill that inspires action and cooperation from our friends.

Our investments help support civil society under stress, address the drivers of violent extremism and the root causes of conflict and migration. Our investments meet the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized people, build resilience to extreme weather, combat the spread of infectious diseases, and contribute to a much needed global economic recovery.

We of course know, Senator Coons as you indicated, that the enormous level of global need far outstrips any one country’s ability to meet it. The Biden-Harris Discretionary Request for Fiscal Year 22 will allow the United States to lead on the global stage, and to leverage our activities to inspire our allies and private sector partners to contribute more.

We also need to make ourselves a more capable and nimble Agency. We are trying to adapt our systems, processes, and procedures to that end, including by ensuring we are well-positioned to expand our engagement with the private sector. And we are building institutional capacity commensurate with USAID’s role as a national security agency.

We are intently focused on our workforce. During the pandemic, many of our staff at home and abroad have been working to provide life-saving aid around the world, even while their loved ones battle COVID-19. Moving forward, we are seeking not a return to the previous status quo, but to better support our staff and harness their capabilities. Underpinning all of our efforts will be a strong focus on creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive USAID.

With your support, USAID will move aggressively to tackle the world’s toughest problems in order to build a more stable and prosperous future for us all. I look forward to our continued partnership in ensuring that American taxpayer dollars are spent effectively.

Thank you, and I look forward to answering your questions.

Subject 
FY 2022 Budget Request
Chamber 
Senate
Committee 
Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

Last updated: May 25, 2022

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