Watch The Video Here: https://bit.ly/ekVZT9
Washington, DC – Congressman Howard L. Berman, Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, engaged House Republicans on the House floor today when he pointed out in stark terms the national security risks their proposed budget cuts will create.
Specifically, Congressman Berman pointed out the proposed cuts by the GOP would:
• Scale back weapons and training to build the capacity of key partners in the fight against terror, such as Yemen, Pakistan, and the Philippines.
• Restrict financing for the purchase of U.S. military equipment to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge
• Limit defense items and services that enable other countries to cooperate with us on counter-terrorism efforts
• Put an end to the “civilian surge” in Afghanistan, leaving the military to perform civilian jobs
• Impede efforts to train Iraqi police and security forces
To watch Congressman Berman’s full speech, please visit HFAC’s YouTube page: https://bit.ly/ekVZT9
Congressman Berman also submitted an extended version of his remarks for the Congressional Record, they can be found below.
Submitted To The Congressional Record:
Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the rule, which provides for consideration of a resolution to reduce what is being called “non-security” spending to 2008 levels.
That resolution, H.Res. 38, sends a very damaging message that the Congress will not stand up to protect those programs that are absolutely essential to jobs and the economy. It also rejects a key principle that military leaders and Presidents of both parties have clearly recognized: Foreign assistance and diplomacy are essential to United States national security.
That principle has been honored on a bipartisan basis ever since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. On that terrible morning, Americans woke to the realization that while the Cold War was over, their safety and security could be threatened by much less sophisticated means. The ideologies and the weapons of terror could not be thwarted by military power alone.
In 2004 the Republican-controlled Congress passed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act by a vote of 336-75. It was supported by all the Members who are now in positions of leadership in this body. The Speaker, the Majority Leader and the Budget Committee Chairman all voted for it.
The bill, now Public Law 108-458, states: “Long-term success in the war on terrorism demands the use of all elements of national power, including diplomacy, military action, intelligence, covert action, law enforcement, economic policy, foreign aid, public diplomacy, and homeland defense.”
It continues: “To win the war on terrorism, the United States must assign to economic and diplomatic capabilities the same strategic priority that is assigned to military capabilities.”
In fact, the portion of the bill that makes these findings is known as the “9/11 Commission Implementation Act of 2004.” It states: “The legislative and executive branches of the Government of the United States must commit to robust, long-term investments in all of the tools necessary for the foreign policy of the United States to successfully accomplish the goals of the United States.”
All of the tools necessary – that includes diplomacy and foreign assistance, which would be slashed under this resolution. The 9/11 Commission Implementation Act of 2004 goes on to say that these investments “will require increased funding to United States foreign affairs programs.”
In May of this year, Admiral Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote to then-Speaker Pelosi regarding proposed cuts to the international affairs budget. The opening paragraph stated: “We are living in times that require an integrated national security program with budgets that fund the full spectrum of national security efforts, including vitally important pre-conflict and post-conflict civilian stabilization programs.”
He was reinforcing a message that had also been communicated, on several occasions, by Secretary Gates, when he wrote: “The diplomatic and developmental capabilities of the United States have a direct bearing on our ability to shape threats and reduce the need for military action. It is my firm belief that diplomatic programs as part of a coordinated strategy will save money by reducing the likelihood of active military conflict involving U.S. forces.
Admiral Mullen penned a personal note at the end, which read: “The more significant the cuts, the longer military operations will take, and the more and more lives are at risk!”
President Bush, when sending up his wartime supplemental request in FY 2006, integrated diplomatic and military spending. He asked Congress to provide “the Resources to Win the War on Terror.”
The message from our military leadership, this Congress, and even former President Bush is clear: US civilian agencies must be fully resourced to prosecute the fight against terror effectively. A cut to the 150 budget harms US national security and puts American lives at risk.
And yet, the Chairman of the Rules Committee explained, during consideration of this resolution, that “security spending” does not include diplomacy and development. He said, “No, my definition, my definition is, as we have outlined in here, this is discretionary spending other than defense, military construction, V.A. and homeland security.” The resolution itself does not define what is security or non-security, but the authors say they do not consider diplomacy and development part of our national security budget.
Before voting on this resolution, I would urge my colleagues to think about what the practical implications would be of major cuts in the international affairs budget.
In 2008, the vast majority of U.S. assistance to Iraq was provided by the military. This year, at long last, we are withdrawing the remainder of our troops, and handing over the job to civilians. If we cut our diplomatic and development budget for Iraq, then all the investments we’ve made, and all the American lives that have been lost, will be in vain.
The civilian presence costs only a tiny fraction of what we were spending on the military. But this resolution would make that civilian presence impossible. The proposed cuts will mean snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Returning to the past would also mean violating our Memorandum of Understanding with Israel, under which we pledge to help Israel maintain its qualitative military edge against those who seek its destruction. Do my colleagues suggest we renege on our commitment to Israel?
In Afghanistan and Pakistan, we cannot defeat violent extremism by military power alone. As Secretary Gates recently said, “without development we will not be able to be successful in either Iraq or Afghanistan.” Our military strategy in Afghanistan is often described as “clear, hold, and build.” How can we succeed if there is no one to do the holding and the building?
Foreign assistance programs protect us even outside the areas of active combat or potential conflict. Our efforts to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and other deadly diseases, counter the flow of illegal narcotics, prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, reduce human misery and halt environmental destruction, all help to protect the safety and security of American citizens.
Mr. Speaker, we can’t afford to go back to the isolationist, unilateralist policies of the past. Cutting spending to 2008 levels takes us back to a period when America’s standing in the world was at an all-time low.
Whether it’s finding new markets for U.S. goods and services, addressing climate change, sharing the burden of peacekeeping, enforcing sanctions against Iran, or improving travel and communications, we need to build strong international relationships.
We all remember the period when the United States tried to go it alone, unwilling to cooperate with other countries and demonstrate global leadership.
We’ve finally begun to turn that all around. Let’s not go back to the bad old days when the U.S. turned away from the rest of the world, and lost so much of its influence and respect.
Mr. Speaker, we all recognize the very difficult budget and economic situation that confronts us. There is no doubt that well-crafted reforms will help us to use our foreign assistance dollars more effectively and efficiently, and ensure that aid reaches those who need it. That is why I am continuing my efforts to develop legislation to modernize our foreign assistance policies and programs.
But what we need to do, as one conservative blogger has suggested, is to “mend it, not end it.” Comparatively speaking, diplomacy and development don’t cost much, and save us money over the long run.
International affairs funding helps promote U.S. exports and saves U.S. jobs. Our economy can’t grow without creating and expanding new markets abroad. Our diplomats help to identify export opportunities, help American companies navigate foreign political systems, and level the playing field for American products around the globe.
We should also keep in mind that international affairs accounts for just one percent of the budget. Even if we eliminated such spending entirely, it wouldn’t balance the budget and it wouldn’t make a dent in our national debt. But it would devastate our economy and our national security.
As Secretary Gates said last fall, “Development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.”
In places like Haiti and Sudan, we provide assistance not only for purely humanitarian reasons, but also because a failure to do so could lead to chaos and bloodshed that would be far more costly in the long run.
Going back to 2008 levels of global AIDS funding would mean ending antiretroviral treatment for people who are currently receiving it. It would mean abandoning pregnant women who run a high risk of transmitting HIV to their newborns. It would mean fewer orphans and vulnerable children will get care and support, and fewer people in poor countries will get HIV counseling and testing.
President Bush made clear not only the need to not cut funding, but to make greater investments in these programs when he wrote, just a few months ago, “there are millions on treatment who cannot be abandoned. And the progress in many African nations depends on the realistic hope of new patients gaining access to treatment…On AIDS, to stand still is to lose ground.”
Mr. Speaker, these are only a few of the most obvious and damaging implications of reducing the international affairs budget to 2008 levels. This resolution would set the stage for reckless cuts that endanger our national security, abandon our national interests and throw Americans out of work, and I urge my colleagues to oppose it.