Senator Murray’s Remarks at Hearing on State Department’s Budget
***WATCH: Senator Murray’s remarks***
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, spoke at a State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs subcommittee hearing with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the President’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of State.
Senator Murray’s remarks, as delivered, are below:
“Thank you very much, Chair Coons and Ranking Member Graham.
“I’m really glad to join you as we kick off our subcommittee hearings on President Biden’s budget request.
“We’re really lucky in the Senate to have a Chair and Ranking Member on this Committee who both really know their stuff when it comes to foreign policy, and are so similarly committed to finding common ground for the good of this country.
“These hearings provide a really important opportunity for us to assess our country’s needs as we write our funding bills for the year ahead.
“Vice Chair Collins, who’s here today, and I have made very clear we want to return to regular order—a goal I know both of you, and the Ranking Member share, and so many of our colleagues do as well.
“We have a responsibility to work in a timely way to write funding bills that will build a stronger economy, make our communities safer, and ensure we stay ahead of our global competitors.
“I think we all know that getting this done through regular order—for the first time in years—will be no walk in the park.
“But it will be worth it.
“So I’m really glad to have you both as partners in this effort, and I look forward to working with everyone on this subcommittee to provide the robust funding that these issues deserve.
“Now this hearing offers an important reminder, that when it comes to keeping our nation safe, competitive, and secure, defense spending is important, but it is only one part of the equation.
“After all, our strength here at home, and across the world, isn’t just measured by the strength of our military, it is measured by our diplomacy, our influence abroad, and our strategic investments, which make the world—including our own nation—safer and more secure.
“And that is why boosting investments in non-defense discretionary spending is so critical.
“Because we are weaker—our families more at risk—when we retreat from the world stage.
“And folks back home get that.
“They see every day how our world is more connected than ever, and how crises on the other side of the world have ramifications for their daily lives.
“Like when supply chains are broken and families can’t get products they need.
“Or when small businesses and our growers are cut off from foreign markets they rely on to make a living.
“Or when viruses spread undetected, leading to outbreaks—and as we know, pandemics.
“Or when the world becomes more hostile to women as their rights are attacked and less free as democracies are undermined.
“Or when families become refugees and flee their homes due to persecution and violence.
“The more we are engaged in the world now, the better we can address and prevent these challenges—before they reach our door.
“But if we fail to invest in the State Department and the powerful diplomatic tools we have. If we don’t keep our embassies well-staffed, Mr. Secretary, as you mentioned. If we don’t invest in preventing conflict before it causes catastrophe, and promoting stability with humanitarian aid and development. If we don’t stand up for democracy—and stand up to autocrats. And if we don’t invest in global solutions to global challenges like food security and tackling the climate crisis.
“In short—if we stand down on the world stage, our adversaries and competitors will step up and fill that leadership void.
“We know China is already working to build relationships and alliances across the world by building infrastructure far beyond its borders.
“If we are going to stay competitive, we have to continue making smart investments that make our allies and our partnerships stronger.
“And we know a global challenge like the climate crisis cannot be solved through unilateral action—it can only be solved through global cooperation: and that requires leadership.
“Chair Coons, I really appreciate your leadership in focusing on how we must address the climate crisis on the world stage. Because we are constantly seeing new, alarming examples of how the climate crisis poses an immense threat to global security—and to our own national security.
“Water scarcity, food scarcity, and extreme weather events don’t just create humanitarian crises in a vacuum. They can destabilize entire regions—threatening our own security.
“And we have also seen how Russia has tried to use energy dependence to strengthen its hand in its brutal war against Ukraine, which is just one more reason it is so important that we invest in global solutions to the climate crisis that allow our allies to be less reliant on our adversaries for energy.
“At the same, time we have to keep in mind that when we strengthen our ties in Asia, when we support economic stability in Latin America, when we build up public health capacity in Africa, those investments pay dividends, including for all of us right here at home.
“That’s true for families across the country, and especially for my home state of Washington.
“My state is a hub of global trade—especially with Asia—and one of America’s great gateways to the world.
“We welcome diplomats—and have numerous consulates in our state.
“We welcome refugees—and are one of the top five states when it comes to hosting families that have fled the conflict in Ukraine.
“And not only do we welcome students, workers, and tourists—we engage with the world too, including the many Fulbright scholars, and students, and Peace Corps members who head out from Washington state to learn about other countries and cultures, build relationships, and strengthen communities.
“Our investments in these programs, help create a world that is safer and more open to Americans.
“So Mr. Chairman, I will just end by noting the list of issues in this subcommittee are really critical—for our nation and for our families, they literally span the globe. But the bottom line is pretty simple: we can’t be a player on the world stage and keep our country safe and prosperous if we put ourselves on the sidelines.
“And there is just too much at stake in this moment to let that happen.
“We have to continue the work of leading a global coalition that holds Russia accountable for its cruel and unjust invasion of Ukraine.
“We have to continue standing with our Ukrainian allies, supporting refugees, and providing the support they need—especially as we see China stepping in to grow its influence with Xi’s visit to Moscow earlier this week.
“We have got to continue to be steadfast in our investments to counter these influences, and continue to lead by example.
“So Mr. Secretary, I welcome you here today.
“And I look forward to hearing more from the Administration about this, and working with my colleagues on a bipartisan funding bill for next year that provides the robust investments the State Department needs to strengthen our ties, support our allies, and solidify our place as the leader of the free world.”
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