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Washington, D.C. – Today, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul gave the following remarks at a full committee hearing with USAID Administrator Power on the Biden Administration’s 2024 Fiscal Year USAID Budget that has misplaced priorities and remains ineffective at advancing strategic U.S. interests in an era of great power competition and budget constraints. 


-Remarks as delivered-


First of all, I want to thank you Administrator… Power for joining us today.

I’ve really enjoyed working with you over the past two years. And look forward to continuing to work with you… 

USAID is the U.S. government’s primary humanitarian and development assistance organization in the world.

They are the people who bring food to starving children, bring medicine to the sick and dying, help rebuild schools and bridges and roads when war or natural disasters have washed them away – and we’re seeing quite a bit of that today.

In other words Administrator Power, you are the face of America’s soft diplomacy. And that’s a very important face. We have our hard power with our weapons this committee deals with, and we have our soft power and that’s your department.

So therefore, I think it is critical USAID have a cohesive strategy to grow America’s soft influence while using U.S. taxpayer money as effectively and efficiently as possible.

The budget you have submitted to our committee has some good provisions to project American leadership. 

It does include funding for the Global Fragility Act, legislation I championed and introduced. This bipartisan program pushes the U.S. government to take a more long-term approach to preventing conflict by looking at its root causes.

Unfortunately though, much of this budget reads more like a wish list rather than a strategic document to promote American leadership through our generosity.

The Chinese Communist Party poses a generational threat to the United States of America. I think on both sides of the aisle and you as well, recognize this.

They use debt trap diplomacy through Belt and Road and broken promises to woo leaders around the world – and to some extent, they are succeeding.

USAID is one of the primary agencies this government can use to confront the malign influence of the CCP.

Yet the President places higher priority on cutting carbon with his request for 11 billion dollars in “climate finance” than he does on building much needed infrastructure in Africa.

In fact I, at the Milken Institute, met with about twelve Ministers of Finance from Africa and bankers. I asked all of them, have you worked with the Development Finance Corporation. I know that’s not perhaps your direct portfolio but every one of them – no one raised their hand. In fact, none of them have worked with the DFC – maybe that’s another issue for another day.

Also, this budget I think makes it harder for our partners to do business with USAID by expanding requirements for so-called “DEI.” These further slow the pace of USAID’s core contract and grant making business.

The budget is also not clear on how USAID plans to spend the requested 400 million dollars for the “Countering PRC Influence Fund.” That fund could be a valuable tool to countering the CCP if done correctly as Congress intended.

So in short, our foreign aid must serve as a clear alternative to the CCP and our adversaries – while also saving lives and projecting U.S. global leadership around the world.

Now I’d like to turn to Afghanistan, where the Biden administration’s chaotic and deadly withdrawal left a moral stain on this country and created a massive humanitarian crisis.

We know for a fact that taxpayer funded aid is flowing to the Taliban fighters and loyalists, rather than suffering Afghan women and children.

In fact, the ranking member and I met with some Afghan women this morning, including Ambassador Roya Rahmani. We have some thoughts on that and I’ll turn to that when I ask you – but the women are hurting and they’re left behind.

But USAID and the U.S. State Department cannot tell us exactly
how MUCH money is flowing to them. We need to know that.

When you were here in July of 2021, I warned that President Biden’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan would limit our ability to conduct oversight of assistance directed there and I think we are seeing that today. That went forward and now, it’s very difficult to track this assistance.

At the same time, the Taliban has banned Afghan women from working for the groups dispersing aid in the country. The NGOs can’t even hire women because of the Taliban’s strict enforcement.

This greatly diminishes the ability to get aid to the women and children – the people who need it the most. And it further limits our oversight capabilities. 

The U.S. must adamantly oppose these new rules. And we must work with our friends and allies to pressure the Taliban to lift this ban.

Hard fought gains to advance women’s rights and promote democracy and stability in Afghanistan were wiped out by President Biden’s horrible decision to withdraw unilaterally – against the advice of his top generals and the intelligence community.

So I think it’s incumbent upon the President and his top officials like you to fix this problem.

Looking at the Western Hemisphere, the crisis at our southern border, as you know, is the worst I have seen in my entire career.

I believe that it is a direct cause and effect of… this administration rescinding the Migrant Protection Protocols, known as Remain in Mexico.

USAID plays – and must continue to play – a critical role in combatting the root causes of this migration.

And again, going back to DFC, I’d like to see more private investment in Central America to stem the tide and get to the root cause.

The U.S. is – and has long been – the largest foreign aid donor. But we must do this strategically. And we can’t do this alone.

And I think the premise of foreign assistance is that one day we won’t have to give foreign assistance once we can stabilize.

As the U.S. does more, the Biden Administration must urge our partners to step up as well. So again, Administrator Power, thank you so much for being here. I appreciate what you do and I know you travel a lot, going to some dangerous hotspots. I know you had a trip planned to go to Africa and the Sudan region, which is war-torn as we speak. The violence and the killing there is absolutely devastating. I know you’re doing your best to help get assistance to those who need it the most.