Monday, March 11, 2024

Washington, DC


SPOKESPERSON MATTHEW MILLER: Good afternoon, everyone. We have a couple of guests today who are going to give opening comments. Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Rich Verma will start, followed by Deputy Administrator of USAID for Management and Resources Paloma Adams-Allen. They will give opening comments, they’ll be happy to take a few questions, and then we’ll resume the usual briefing after they finish.

With that.

DEPUTY SECRETARY RICHARD VERMA: Thank you. Matt, thank you. Good afternoon, everyone. Nice to see you, and I want to thank my friend and colleague, USAID Deputy Administrator for Management and Resources Paloma Adams-Allen, for being here with us today. I also want to thank our Director of Bureau of Planning and Resources Doug Pitkin and our new Director of Foreign Assistance Tracy Carson, as well our USAID Budget Lead Roman Napoli, for being with us here as we walk through our FY25 budget with all of you.

The budget request we are sending to Congress today will allow the Department of State and USAID to continue advancing the Biden administration’s vision of a free, open, secure, and prosperous world while delivering on issues that matter most to the lives and livelihoods of the American people. The President’s FY25 budget request includes $58.8 billion for the State Department and USAID. This is a $718 million or one percent increase above FY23. We are grateful for Congress’ partnership in resourcing State and USAID to meet the many challenges that we face today.

U.S. diplomacy and development are more essential than ever to ensure American security and prosperity to solve global challenges and uphold universal values. Over the past year, the United States, with our friends and colleagues and allies around the world, have faced a range of significant challenges – from the conflict in the Middle East, to Russia’s ongoing brutal war against Ukraine, to historic levels of irregular migration and forced displacement, to unprecedented and growing global humanitarian needs.

Our budget request invests in the personnel, the programs, and assistance that the State Department and USAID need as we stand at the front lines of these issues. Just allow me to outline some of our highest-priority areas in the request.

First, we must employ all the tools at our disposal to outcompete China wherever possible. The FY25 request will allow us to continue to invest in the foundations of our strength at home aligned with like minded partners to strengthen our shared interests and address the challenges posed by the PRC and harness those assets to compete with the PRC and defend our interests. We are aligning our foreign assistance to advance U.S. values by building a network of like minded allies and partners both globally and with concerted focus on the Indo-Pacific as a region of vital importance to the U.S. and global security and prosperity.

The $4 billion discretionary request across foreign assistance and diplomatic engagement for the Indo-Pacific Strategy represents our ironclad commitment to advancing an affirmative vision of U.S. values for the region. While many aspects of the discretionary request help advance this goal, discretionary resources alone cannot meet this need. It is imperative to our national security that we also have mandatory, reliable funding to outcompete China, and that is why the request also includes $4 billion over five years in mandatory funding to enable the United States to invest in new ways to outcompete China and focus on new and critical investments split between two important funds.

We are requesting $2 billion to create a new international infrastructure fund which will outcompete China by providing a credible, reliable alternative to PRC options while also expanding markets and opportunities for U.S. businesses. This fund will support transformative, quality, and sustainable hard infrastructure projects. Additionally, we are seeking $2 billion to make game-changing investments in the Indo-Pacific to strengthen partner economies, improve good governance and the rule of law, bolster connectivity between partner countries, and support their efforts, including through multilateral fora, in building resilience and pushing back against predatory efforts.

Our second key priority in this request is ensuring Russia’s war in Ukraine remains a strategic failure. We are requesting $482 million, which would sustain crucial support for Ukraine in its resolute defense of its people and independence from Russia. Our request also provides the resources needed to deliver critical economic development and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine’s brave and resilient citizens.

Let me be clear, though. These funds are in addition to the October 2023 National Security Supplemental Request. The FY25 resources start re-establishing a base budget for core and enduring programs for Ukraine but cannot replace the funds requested as part of the supplemental.

Third, advancing peace and security in the Middle East remains a top priority for us, including working with our partners to end the conflict between Israel and Hamas and deliver lifesaving assistance to Palestinians. The President’s request of $7.6 billion maintains our longstanding investments to support key partners in the Middle East and North Africa and their security against growing violence by extremists and Iran-linked malign actors. The funds would unlock resources to partner with citizens of the region, foster economic growth, and advance good governance and respect for human rights.

Fourth, delivering solutions to shared global challenges such as irregular migration and forced displacement, countering synthetic drugs, a rapidly changing climate, and growing humanitarian crises. Now, to do this we are mobilizing resources to promote economic prosperity, grow energy sectors, strengthen health systems, invest in food security, and to mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis. Our partnerships are crucial to tackling these global challenges, and ones that affect our own hemisphere, including irregular migration, forced displacement, and the illegal synthetic drug crisis in the United States. These additional resources will allow us to work together with key allies and partners on these challenges and towards a free, open, and secure, prosperous world.

Fifth, we will continue to work – continue our work to ensure U.S. interests and values are protected in the digital and emerging technology sector, including through the CHIPS Act. We are grateful to Congress for providing 500 million over five years to work with our partners and allies to secure and expand our critical semiconductor supply chains and promote the adoption of trustworthy telecommunication technologies.

Now, success in all of these policy areas is not possible if we do not have the people, the platforms, and the tools to achieve these objectives while being responsible stewards of taxpayer resources. So to that end, with FY25 funds, we must also continue the Secretary of State’s ambitious agenda to modernize American diplomacy, to ensure we are equipped to seize the opportunities of the 21st century. These resources will strengthen the department by improving the morale, recruitment, and retention of our global workforce, which spans the Foreign Service, the Civil Service, and our locally employed staff at embassies around the world.

And to meet these global challenges and to fulfill the President’s priorities, we need a growing workforce empowered by more training and greater flexibility. Our request expands State’s and USAID’s workforce by establishing nearly 350 new positions, and also filling 200 of State’s existing Foreign Service vacancies. We will focus on expanding our engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, increasing professional development and training options, and establishing a new diplomatic reserve auxiliary corps to meet future crises. We will also continue to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility initiatives, to include broader recruitment and retention. We’ve requested $5.6 billion to keep our people, our buildings, and information around the globe safe and secure, including for an expanded presence in the Indo-Pacific, in Libya, and the Eastern Caribbean.

In addition, the United States multilateral contributions are indispensable to shaping international institutions and partnerships critical to our national security interests. Therefore, our request includes $1.7 billion for contributions to international organizations such as the UN, WHO, NATO, and UNESCO, as well as $1.2 billion for contributions to UN international peacekeeping.

Finally, I would also like to emphasize what we are doing to provide better services to the American people. Our request will enhance the department’s consular services for passports, visas, and U.S. citizen services overseas. Increased staffing and IT capacity will reduce wait times and improve customer service that many Americans and visitors to the United States count on.

Now, as I said at the outset, this budget will advance the Biden administration’s vision of a free, open, secure, and prosperous world, but it also delivers on issues that matter to the lives and livelihoods of Americans. Better, faster, and more convenient services from our consular services is one area. But so is reducing the flow of fentanyl, promoting greater economic opportunity, ensuring global health security, and creating jobs. And these are all other examples of how the department will deliver on things that matter most to Americans.

Now, with that, let me hand the floor to Deputy Administrator Paloma Adams-Allen, who will address the key USAID elements of the FY25 budget request, and then we would look forward to a few of your questions as well. Paloma.

DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR PALOMA ADAMS-ALLEN: Thank you, Rich. Thanks so much, Rich. Thank you, Matt. Good morning. Good afternoon. As Rich has just described, we really find ourselves at another decisive juncture – where U.S. leadership on the global stage is critical for continued growth and prosperity here at home, for our national security, and for extending the reach of dignity around the world.

The President’s FY25 budget request calls for $28 billion for USAID, a request that reflects our commitment to responding to the historic conflict and climate-driven disasters that continue to wreak havoc globally, while also advancing longer-term development objectives – like strengthening democracy, global economic resilience, and our systems for the response and prevention of climate and health shocks. This request also assumes the appropriation of the critical humanitarian and economic support funds we’ve been fighting for in the National Security Supplemental. So before I take questions alongside Rich, I just wanted to highlight a few of the areas that are critical for USAID.

On the humanitarian assistance front: In the last three years alone – due to natural disasters and ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and beyond – the number of people in need of assistance has grown to 300 million, an increase of 64 million from 2021. For the U.S. to continue to lead, to support our partners and allies, and to save lives amidst some of the world’s toughest challenges, this year’s budget requests $6.3 billion for USAID’s humanitarian assistance efforts, which cover an average of 75 crises per year – including ongoing emergencies in Gaza, Haiti, and Afghanistan. It also includes $1.1 billion for USAID’s Feed the Future programs to address the global food crisis driven by climate-induced shocks and exacerbated by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s long-term economic stability depends on its ability to continue generating revenue, so this year’s request includes $321 million to bolster its economy, including building up its energy infrastructure and increasing agricultural exports. It also includes funding to continue the support that the government provides in terms of basic social services as well as the Ukrainian people’s work to strengthen democracy.

In terms of our economic and democracy-strengthening priorities, we know that leveraging private sector capital and business expertise is critical to closing the gap between the current levels of development assistance and the increasing need. So we’re requesting $50 billion [million] for USAID’s EDGE Fund – which is already generating partnerships and attracting the additional resources needed to promote sustainable business practices, market-based innovations, and inclusive entrepreneurship. And we’re asking for another $50 million to boost the economic resilience of countries facing mounting debt, slowing growth, high inflation, declining investment, and widening inequality – all of which we know can undermine democratic gains.

To meet the urgency and magnitude of the digital threats to development progress, the request includes $94 million to scale USAID’s digital, cyber, and emerging technology programming – including our work to build and strengthen open, inclusive, and secure digital ecosystems, and leverage proven technology for better development outcomes.

To meet our commitment to tackle the global climate crisis, this year’s budget requests $2.8 billion for USAID-managed climate programs that lay the foundation for the modernization and expansion of the energy infrastructure needed to power schools, hospitals, and economic growth. We will also continue to increase food and water security by providing people with access to lifesaving early warning systems and more resilient agriculture and conservation practices.

To reaffirm the U.S. global health leadership, the budget request includes $4 billion for USAID-managed accounts to prevent child and maternal deaths, bolster nutrition, control the HIV/AIDS epidemic, protect the global health workforce through the President’s Global Health Worker initiative, and it includes $650 million for USAID to sustain global health security programs to help detect, respond to, and prevent future infectious disease threats.

And last but not least, as Rich noted, we’re supporting our people. Beyond our critical programmatic funding, this request also reflects our commitment to strengthening and investing in our global workforce. With our $2.2 billion request, we are prioritizing the recruitment, retention, and training of the personnel with the skills and experience needed in a modern development and humanitarian enterprise. So an additional 145 positions will help us grow our ranks of career humanitarians, contracting and AI specialists, economists, engineers, and others. And it will position us to better address the compensation and other concerns of our local staff who serve our missions overseas, ensuring that we live up to our values but are also able to compete for much-needed talent.

So, to wrap up, from day one the Biden-Harris administration – of the Biden-Harris administration, the United States has confronted and – led the world to respond to – complex threats and the most pressing global challenges of the day. We look forward to continuing this work with the support of the American people. Thank you.

MR. MILLER: Okay. Take a few questions. Matt.

QUESTION: Thanks. I guess these are to both of you, and I don’t know, Rich, do we call you ambassador or a deputy secretary?

DEPUTY SECRETARY VERMA: Whatever you want.

QUESTION: What do you prefer?


QUESTION: Okay. I have a couple, but I think they’ll be really quick. And the reason that I have a couple is because we have not actually seen the Function 150 justification. We’ve only seen a couple fact sheets that were sent out.

DEPUTY SECRETARY VERMA: I think it came out just –

QUESTION: Well, I haven’t seen it. It’s not been in my email, so anyway – but I think these will be real quick.

Ukraine – in the 2025 budget, you said $482 million. Is that correct?


QUESTION: And then – and – but that’s on top of what is in the supplemental, which has not yet been approved already.


QUESTION: Which is – how much is that? That’s part of the $60 billion?


QUESTION: $16.3?


QUESTION: Okay. So of the – all right. And then – okay, I just wanted to make sure that was right.

DEPUTY SECRETARY VERMA: And Matt, just – maybe I’ll just make the point that I made that this base budget in FY25 is not a substitute for that supplemental, and that supplemental is growing more and more important every day.

QUESTION: Right. Okay. And then also part of that supplemental is some stuff for the Middle East, but in the 2025 request, you have $7.6 billion, right? Is it correct that about half of that, roughly – a little less than half, $3.3 billion – is for Israel alone?


QUESTION: And then on Taiwan, you mentioned – the Indo-Pacific, you say – in one of these fact sheets that we got a little while ago, it says that you’re making a historic investment in Taiwan’s military.

DEPUTY SECRETARY VERMA: Think it’s $100 million in security assistance.

QUESTION: Yeah, but you know what? I’ve seen individual arms sales to Taiwan that you guys have put out to TECRO that are more than 100 million, so I don’t understand how this is historic. Can you explain that?

And then I’ve got one last one which is about embassies and consulates. I don’t know if you want to take those.

DEPUTY SECRETARY VERMA: Happy to take that. Look, we break out Taiwan for the first time and have a specific line item for it. It reaffirms our commitment to security assistance for Taiwan and to a free and open Indo-Pacific. I think it’s very clear. I think it stands on its own.

QUESTION: Okay. But, I mean, it is not in itself historic because – the size of it is not historic. I mean, you guys have sold them –

DEPUTY SECRETARY VERMA: I think – yeah, here’s what I would say –

QUESTION: You guys have – there have been many, numerous, transfers to the Taiwanese over the years that have exceeded 100 million at a time.

DEPUTY SECRETARY VERMA: That’s true. That’s true, and we’re very proud of the longstanding security assistance we’ve provided. I’d also say take a look at our Indo-Pacific Strategy more broadly and the new kind of funding requests that have gone in, including mandatory spending and new accounts.

QUESTION: Okay. Last one – and this is just on – you said $5.6 billion for supporting the staff or – and improving and expanding the diplomatic presence abroad. Does that include funding for the new embassy in the Seychelles, which I know that you were there to announce? The Maldives, which former Secretary Pompeo was there to announce? And is there any funding for the consulate in Western Sahara that was announced by the previous administration? And is there any funding for a consulate in Jerusalem?

DEPUTY SECRETARY VERMA: So I was in Seychelles. I was also in Maldives, so glad to see the progress there. And we are kind of – Doug, why don’t you jump up? Yeah.

MR. DOUG PITKIN: On Western Sahara – Western Sahara, not at this time. I think that some of the planning is still ongoing for the appropriate presence, given the security conditions. And then at this point – no additional funding for Jerusalem at this point, but that still remains in a planning stage.

QUESTION: All right. Then you mentioned Libya and the eastern Caribbean, so in Libya where? Back in Tripoli?

MR. PITKIN: Libya –

QUESTION: Because you had an embassy that you closed down. I mean, it was in a hotel room, basically, but it was an embassy.

MR. PITKIN: We’re in active negotiations for an interim facility that would provide appropriate security and staffing support adjacent to other international –

QUESTION: In Tripoli?

MR. PITKIN: Yeah. Yeah.

QUESTION: All right. And then you mentioned, Rich, the eastern Caribbean.

MR. PITKIN: Eastern Caribbean. That planning is still going on, but several islands –

QUESTION: For where?

MR. PITKIN: The Secretary has not made a final determination on which specific islands. That planning is ongoing, but would enable two very small, focused posts.

DEPUTY SECRETARY VERMA: This would build on the Vice President’s trip where she made the initial announcement, and the planning actually does continue. And I think what you’ll see is a very strategic focus on key areas where we believe having a diplomatic presence is important – the Indo-Pacific, eastern Caribbean, coming back to Libya – so these are again, I think, reflective of the need to be where the greatest kind of urgency and some of our crises are, but also just to kind of regularize our diplomatic presence in places.

QUESTION: Thank you.

DEPUTY SECRETARY VERMA: Paloma, you want to add anything?



MR. MILLER: Humeyra.

QUESTION: Hi, thank you very much.


QUESTION: Can I follow up super quickly on Western Sahara? I think, if I got it right, you said there’s still ongoing for the appropriate presence given the security conditions. Do you have at all a timeline on when you might move on opening this consulate in Western Sahara?

MR. PITKIN: I think we’d have to come back on the specifics for that, so we can follow up.

QUESTION: You don’t have any timeline?

MR. PITKIN: Not at this point.

QUESTION: But you have – can you confirm you have the political will to open it within this administration?

MR. PITKIN: All those elements are part of the decision process, both the political will, the security, the appropriate resources. So at this point I think we’d have to take that for the – a more specific timeline.

QUESTION: Okay, understand. Thank you. And I just want to ask something about UNRWA, and please correct me if I missed it somewhere, but in the bullet points that are sent out and in the fact sheet, I did not see any funding for UNRWA. I do believe it falls under [the] State Department, USAID. So does that – I mean, is it somewhere that’s hidden or we don’t – we haven’t seen or –

DEPUTY SECRETARY VERMA: No, it’s not hidden. We have – as has been discussed here, I think, multiple times, we have a pause on our funding –


DEPUTY SECRETARY VERMA: – to UNRWA until the investigation is complete. That doesn’t mean we are not providing funding for Gaza, for the West Bank, for the humanitarian needs – and there’s a significant commitment in here. But until that particular investigation concludes itself, we’re going to look to other organizations as we do today: World Food Program, UNICEF, other outlets.

QUESTION: Right. And so it’s – it would be wrong to say that [the] U.S. has written off the possibility to resume funding for UNRWA.

DEPUTY SECRETARY VERMA: I think what I would say is there is a pause pending the outcome of the investigation.

QUESTION: And you said there is significant commitment for Palestinian people. I’ve seen $3.3 for Israel. Does that number include for West Bank or Gaza?

QUESTION: And you said there is significant commitment for Palestinian people. I’ve seen $3.3 for Israel. Does that number include for West Bank or Gaza?

DEPUTY SECRETARY VERMA: No, there’s an additional amount of funding. I think it’s around – Tracy, do you want to take that? Yeah.

MS. TRACY CARSON: There’s $10.3 billion in humanitarian assistance, and those are the sources we would use to support Palestinian refugees.

QUESTION: Okay. And in terms of the agencies, the WFP, did you say?

DEPUTY SECRETARY VERMA: Yeah, I think – look, we work with a range of partner agencies, and that’s what we do today to deliver the assistance, and we’ll continue to do that.

QUESTION: Thank you.



MR. MILLER: Alex, go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you so much. I appreciate that. A couple of questions, if I may. On Eurasia – Central Asia and Europe – what I have written there, line 199 – you mentioned some portion will go to Armenia’s economic and democratic resilience. Can you just give us the numbers? How much of that portion will go to –

DEPUTY SECRETARY VERMA: Sorry, you said on Armenia?




MS. CARSON: I’ll get back to you on that.

DEPUTY SECRETARY VERMA: In one – we have it broken out, but we’ll make sure we get that to you.

QUESTION: I appreciate it. On democracy programming, I didn’t see any funding for a summit, democratic – democracy summit for 2025. Do you guys not expect a summit for 2025?


MS. CARSON: There is. There’s $3 billion in democracy, and of that we’re assuming roughly $345 million will support the work that we’ve been doing related to the democracy summit.

QUESTION: In the summit. Yeah. And finally, well, Madam Deputy Administrator, can you speak to how much past couple of months impacted the capabilities in terms of delivery of humanitarian assistance in Ukraine? I see funding for upcoming year, but if you don’t – if you don’t have a lot of partners who will help you in Ukraine to deliver that assistance, do you – how much past couple of months have impacted your capabilities?

DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR ADAMS-ALLEN: So we’re still providing assistance in Ukraine. We provided about $14.6 – up to 14.6 thousand – million folks. So we still have ongoing funding. The challenge will be if we don’t get the supplemental funding, that’s where we will have to cut off 400 or so health centers that are providing support, food assistance that’s going out to folks. So we are currently providing assistance, but that is ramping down, and that’s why we need the supplemental.

Roman, do you have a figure in terms of numbers of folks who have received assistance? Sorry for –

MR. NAPOLI: Tracy might, I think.

MS. CARSON: I’ll get back.




MR. NAPOLI: Go ahead.

MR. MILLER: We’ll take one –


MR. MILLER: Oh, sorry.

DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR ADAMS-ALLEN: That continues our issue, and this is why the supplemental is so urgent.

MS. CARSON: I’ll just answer your Armenia question. The budget assumes $52 million for Armenia.


MR. MILLER: One more from Nike, and then we’ll wrap, and I’ll take questions.

QUESTION: Thank you. This question is to follow and to clarify to both of you. The fact sheet mentioned “100.0 million for an historic investment in Taiwan’s security including new bilateral Foreign Military Financing request, to strengthen deterrence and maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.” Can we please have a breakdown? Does that include a permanent training mission by the U.S. Special Forces, troops in Taiwan, Republic of China? Thank you.

DEPUTY SECRETARY VERMA: I don’t – I don’t believe so. I think this is the traditional security assistance. There’s also IMET assistance. And again, you have to read that together with the totality of our assistance in the Indo-Pacific Strategy and the new mandatory funding we’ve also added. So I think that’s how I would describe that particular –

MS. CARSON: Yeah, it’s Foreign Military Financing grant-based assistance that we would provide to Taiwan.




MR. MILLER: Thank you both.



DEPUTY SECRETARY VERMA: Thank you, Matt. Thanks, everybody.


QUESTION: Thank you.


Budget Justification


The President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 Budget Request for the Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is $42.8 billion for foreign assistance, which is $411.5 million (1 percent) above the FY 2023 Estimate. This total includes $28.3 billion in foreign assistance for USAID fully and partially managed accounts.

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