Senator Murray Opening Remarks at Full Committee Hearing on Strengthening America's Security and Competitiveness and the Path Ahead for the US-China Relationship
***WATCH: Senator Murray's opening remarks***
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, led a full committee hearing with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo to examine President Biden’s budget request in the context of the U.S.-China relationship and discuss the investments needed in the upcoming fiscal year to strengthen America’s security and competitiveness and stay ahead of global competitors like China.
Chair Murray's opening remarks, as delivered, are below:
“This hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee will please come to order.
“We are here today to discuss the U.S.-China relationship and the investments that we need to keep our nation secure, competitive, and strong, and maintain our leadership on the world stage.
“And let me make clear from the outset: when we talk about competing against China and countering Chinese influence, we are talking about competing against its government—not the Chinese people or the millions of Chinese-Americans who help make our country great.
“I’m glad to have Secretaries Austin, Blinken, and Raimondo here to discuss the all-of-government approach we need to meet this challenge.
“And, as this is our first full committee hearing, I’d like to thank Vice Chair Collins, as well as our Chairs and Ranking Members Tester, Coons, Shaheen, Graham, and Moran for working with us on this topic that I know every one of our members cares about.
“And I’d like to thank all of my colleagues for their work in recent weeks to jumpstart our appropriations process, and hold more than 30 very substantive hearings on President Biden’s budget request and critical issues.
“We have made important progress, but I hope we can keep things on track and mark up our bills soon.
“Vice Chair Collins and I had hoped that this Thursday would be our first full committee markup. She and I are working hard and will update all of our Committee members on when we expect to have our first markup in the June work period.
“This week in the House, they are getting ready to mark up their own appropriations bills—it is my goal, and I know the goal of Senator Collins, to be marking up in a similar timeframe.
“What every member in this room knows too is that the Senate must have its voice heard in this process.
“To that end, this Committee has received critical input from nearly all 100 Senators to inform our work as we craft our spending bills that meet our nation’s needs.
“We owe it to our colleagues, our communities, and most of all: our constituents to put forward the shared priorities of this chamber in a slate of bipartisan spending bills.
“And this hearing offers a valuable opportunity to go in depth on one of those shared priorities: making the investments that our nation needs to stay ahead of the Chinese government and other competitors—who are doing everything they can to try and overtake America economically, militarily, and on the world stage.
“As I have said throughout our subcommittee hearings, keeping our country safe and competitive is not just about defense spending.
“Keeping our country safe means investing in diplomacy and development to counter political and economic coercion, to promote stability, to stand up to autocrats, to support our allies, and to advance our global leadership instead of ceding ground to the governments of China and Russia.
“Keeping our communities safe means funding to stop deadly fentanyl from crossing our borders and dangerous cyberattacks that can decimate our infrastructure, schools, hospitals, and more.
“And it means funding to make sure our supply chains for drugs, food, baby formula, and more—are safe, stable, and not dependent on the whims of Beijing and others.
“And when it comes to keeping our competitive edge on the world stage, that means investing in American innovation with funding for R-and-D, advanced manufacturing—like we passed in the CHIPS and Science Act, clean energy jobs, cutting edge biomedical research, emerging technologies—like AI, and so much more.
“It means investing in our economy at every level, supporting our farmers and small businesses, maintaining our ports, railways, and other infrastructure that we need for trade, strengthening and expanding our trade partnerships so we can sell American goods across the world, protecting our intellectual property.
“And, of course, we cannot be competitive with the Chinese government if we are not investing in the backbone of our economy: our working families.
“We cannot compete without investing in high quality public schools for our kids.
“We cannot compete without investing in higher education and workforce programs that help key industries find the workers they need.
“And we are stunting the efforts to rebuild American manufacturing—and so many other sectors of our economy—if we refuse to tackle the child care crisis that is keeping parents out of the workforce.
“And not only are these issues as important as our defense investments—they are connected.
“Make no mistake: China is pressing forward with an aggressive modernization and expansion of their military capabilities.
“As such, there are certain investments we absolutely must make to strengthen our own defensive and deterrence capabilities.
“The President’s budget requests the largest ever amount of funding for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative—and that is critical.
“We need to ensure the military has the resources it needs to stay ahead of China’s military modernization, strengthen logistical preparedness, and expand cyber capabilities—and more.
“However, as the Secretary of Defense has said repeatedly—keeping our nation safe requires a whole-of-government approach.
“After all—our weapons need chips, so making them ourselves and working with likeminded partners to secure our supply chains is a matter of national security.
“And this is key: we have to make sure we have a regular appropriations process so every Department—including DOD—can plan for the year ahead.
“We cannot settle for CRs that freeze our progress, result in year-over-year funding cuts, and seriously impair every single one of our agencies’ abilities to fulfill their missions and move our country forward.
“The Chinese Communist Party doesn’t govern by CRs and they don’t govern by cuts—and we can’t either.
“Which is why it has been so important to me, Senator Collins, and so many others here, to ensure we meet this moment, do our jobs, and get our bipartisan funding bills passed in a timely way.
“I’m glad to say we have bipartisan agreement on the problem we are here to discuss today—keeping ahead of the Chinese government and our competitors.
“And, based on our past bipartisan efforts, I think we have a shared understanding that the solution here must be an all-of-government approach.
“Just a few months ago, we passed an appropriations bill for this fiscal year that showed Congress can take this challenge seriously.
“Senators Shaheen and Moran worked together to increase funding for the National Science Foundation, and fund the Tech Hubs program—building on our bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act to invest in R-and-D, innovation, and building a strong STEM workforce.
“Senators Coons and Graham secured additional resources to advance U.S. global leadership by growing our diplomatic footprint, especially in the Indo-Pacific, increasing funding for the Indo-Pacific Strategy, and providing funding and flexibility for agencies like State, USAID, and the Development Finance Corporation to address emerging strategic priorities.
“Senators Murphy and Capito made critical funding increases to improve detection and seizures of narcotic like fentanyl and related illicit contraband, and to dismantle and to disrupt transnational criminal organizations.
“Senators Feinstein and Kennedy worked together to increase funding for the Office of Science at the Department of Energy, and fund our National Labs so we can develop clean energy solutions and improve advanced manufacturing.
“Our funding bill and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also included critical investments to support infrastructure improvements to ensure our ports can ship goods around the world.
“I think it’s safe to say: we showed just a few months ago there is bipartisan support for an across-the-board effort to counter the growing influence of China’s Communist Party.
“But if we want to stay competitive—if we want to stay ahead—we have to stay the course and build on those investments.
“Which is why I find the approach House Republicans have called for dangerous: suggesting massive funding cuts, across government, at a pivotal moment.
“After years of bipartisan consensus for maintaining America’s global leadership, that tactic will throw in the towel to our competitors, and give the Chinese government our spot as the global superpower of the 21st Century.
“Because, let’s be clear, House Republicans aren’t just proposing one year of cuts to R-and-D and diplomacy and workforce programs—essentially everything that keeps us competitive.
“House Republicans are also demanding spending caps that will tie our hands and lock in even more cuts over the next decade.
“I worry that what is being proposed leads to a lost decade for America—in a moment when we cannot afford it.
“So let’s be clear—China isn’t debating whether to pay its debts, or wreck its economy. China isn’t debating whether to invest in its future, or cut and cap the investments that keep it competitive, and China does not operate on CRs.
“The more we play with default, punt investments with CRs, and teeter on the edge of government shutdowns, the more we prove China and our competitors are right—and helping them show the world that this is their moment to overshadow our leadership. And helping them demonstrate their core belief that totalitarianism is stronger than democratic values here at home and around the world.
“This is why it is critical for the Senate to make its voice heard on America’s future.
“We have to show there is a bipartisan vision to strengthen our nation’s competitiveness and security by investing in American leadership across the board—and a bipartisan will to get it done.
“That’s what I’ve been focused on in all our subcommittee hearings. It is what I hope to hear about from our witnesses today. And it’s why I want us to continue our work and mark up bipartisan spending bills soon because bottom line: we find ourselves at a real turning point.
“And this year’s government spending bills will determine whether or not we are prepared to compete with China, and whether or not we will stay ahead or fall behind.
“We cannot close our eyes and plug our ears when it comes to the threat the Chinese government poses.
“We’ve got to build on the progress we’ve made, keep our country safe and competitive, and invest in America’s future.
“And as we decide what investments we do or don’t make, the stakes could not be higher, and they could not be more serious. So I want to thank everyone who is here today, thank our witnesses—we look forward to hearing your testimony today—and I will turn it over to Vice Chair Collins for her opening statement.”
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