U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green's Opening Remarks to the House Committee on Appropriations' Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs on the FY 2019 Budget Request for USAID

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Remarks

For Immediate Release

Thursday, April 26, 2018
Office of Press Relations
Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email: press@usaid.gov

 
Capitol Hill
Washington, DC

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Thank you. Thank you, Chairman Rogers, Ranking Member Lowey, and members of the subcommittee. Thank you for this opportunity to summarize my written testimony. I would like to begin this morning by welcoming the nomination of Director Pompeo. I had the opportunity to initially discuss with him how development and diplomacy go hand-in-hand, and I very much look forward to working with him closely, should he be confirmed.

In the meantime, as many of you have alluded to, at USAID, we have urgent work to do. From unprecedented humanitarian challenges to exciting development opportunities, our work has never been more important. That has certainly been a clear takeaway from my travels over these last eight months.

I've just returned from Peru and the Summit of the Americas. While there, Acting Secretary Sullivan and I met with courageous pro-democracy activists from Cuba. They shared with us that this is a critical moment in Cuba's history and urged us to support seeds of true liberty and democracy, not only for Cuba, but for Venezuela and elsewhere around the hemisphere. In fact, much of the recent summit focused on Venezuela. The Vice President and I announced $16 million for our humanitarian response to the flight of Venezuelans from the Maduro regime. This displacement of families is unprecedented in Latin American history. What makes the tragedy even more painful is that it's entirely manmade. It is caused by the Maduro regime's continued mismanagement and corruption.

And similar forces are causing humanitarian crises in nearly every corner of the globe. Near-famines continue to rage in Nigeria, Yemen, Syria, and Somalia, all manmade. As I know you agree, in order to fully respond to these crises we need to address their underlying causes. Just as we lead the world in humanitarian assistance, we should also lead in our commitment to democracy, human rights, and responsive governance.

Our Fiscal Year '19 budget request includes funding for our democracy and governance programs in Venezuela that support civil society, the democratically elected legislature, and the free flow of information. Last month, I addressed the UN Security Council on the crisis in the DRC. I urged the Kabila government to hold credible and inclusive elections by the end of the year. And I am deeply concerned, as I know you are, over reports of horrific human rights abuses in Burma in the northern Rakhine State. I will soon be traveling to Burma and Bangladesh to assess this situation first-hand.

Members of the Subcommittee, I have had the chance to discuss with many of you the rising negative influence of Russia and China. Many of you have noted a disturbing global trend toward the repression of basic liberties. Many of you have pointed out that these are significant challenges, not only for our interests, but for the future of the countries involved. In response, our '19 request includes targeted investments in Europe and Eurasia that support democratic institutions and civil society, while countering the Kremlin influence.

We also recognize that China's investments in developing countries are rarely aimed at actually helping those countries achieve their economic independence. Often, they come with real strings attached. We must offer these countries a better choice. We should offer to help them on their journey to self-reliance, not burden them with unsustainable indebtedness.

Members of the Subcommittee, the Fiscal Year '19 request for USAID fully and partially managed accounts is approximately $16.8 billion. This represents $1.3 billion more than requested last year, including $1 billion for humanitarian assistance. We readily acknowledge that this request will not provide enough resources to meet every humanitarian need or to seize every development opportunity. Indeed, no budget in modern times has.

This request attempts to balance fiscal needs at home with our leadership role on the world stage. And our work has never been more important or, sad to say this morning, more dangerous. In April alone, we have seen humanitarian workers killed in South Sudan and Yemen, simply for trying to ease the suffering that pervades both countries. We're committed to taking every step to extend the reach and effectiveness of our taxpayer resources and to try to protect our staff and partners. We're also committed to working closely with this committee to ensure that your ideas are reflected in our Agency's transformation plan.

Finally, I would like to say a quick word about recent published reports of sexual abuse and misconduct by aid workers. Like you, I am deeply troubled by the allegations. Needless to say, sexual exploitation violates everything we stand for as an agency. I have met with partner organizations and made it absolutely clear that USAID will not tolerate sexual harassment or misconduct of any kind. And we have taken numerous other steps and actions and will do whatever else it is that we need to do. I assure you this is an action and an issue that I am personally tracking.

With your support and guidance, we will ensure that USAID remains the world's premier international development agency. And with that, Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear. And I welcome your questions.

Last updated: March 30, 2020

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