Washington D.C. – Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Republican Leader on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, delivered the following opening statement at today’s full committee hearing on the Trump Administration’s FY2021 foreign affairs budget request and USAID programs and priorities. 

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-Remarks as Delivered-

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling this important hearing. Acting Administrator Barsa, it is good to see you again. Thanks for being here. I want to start out by thanking you and your team and your partners in the field. Especially amidst this global pandemic, the tireless work of the men and women of USAID to save lives around the world is critical.

“The United States continues to be the global leader in foreign assistance spending, supporting economic growth and providing food, shelter, and health resources for the most vulnerable populations. This vital work continues as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So far, the United States has provided $1.5 billion to over 120 countries to control the spread of this deadly disease. This commitment builds on over two decades of U.S. investments of $140 billion in responding to infectious disease outbreaks and strengthening health systems.

“The President’s FY21 USAID request appropriately prioritizes funding to key policy priorities. This includes implementation of the administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy; resources to counter malign activity and disinformation campaigns of China, Russia and Iran; support for our allies and our partners in the Middle East; support for Interim President Guaido and democracy in Venezuela, as well as countries supporting Venezuelan refugees; prioritizes funding for the United States International Development Finance Corporation, which provides a critical alternative to China’s predatory lending to developing countries; and it also advances WGDP initiative to promote women’s empowerment and economic opportunity, which I strongly support.

“Unfortunately, the request also cuts key global health and humanitarian assistance resources. Globally, almost 80 million people are currently displaced around the world – that number is expected to rise because of COVID-19. The World Food Program is estimating that 270 million people will need urgent food assistance due to COVID-19 – an 82 percent increase from last year.

“And COVID-19 is already erasing hard fought gains to reduce extreme poverty and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases. As expected, authoritarian regimes and terrorist organizations are looking to exploit this chaos for strategic gain, such as in areas like the Sahel. So as the disease spreads in the Middle East, Latin America and across Africa, existing economic hardships, political challenges and humanitarian emergencies will worsen. In other words it is now not the time to cut this key aid.

“I am deeply concerned the impacts of COVID-19 will push more fragile states into conflict. Our assistance must prioritize prevention and further destabilization. In addition to the long-term impacts, including on education systems, food security, and vaccine distribution. This global pandemic continues to spread, and the work that we do overseas makes us safer here at home.

“As I have said before, successful diplomacy and development is cost effective – fully funding our foreign assistance programs will ultimately save taxpayer dollars.

“With today’s growing fiscal challenges, we must double our efforts to ensure that every dollar spent is strategic in advancing U.S. interests.

“I look forward to hearing from you how our assistance will be used to push back on China’s malign influence, and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, and ensure continued U.S. leadership around the world. With that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.”