WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement on the release of the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 international affairs budget:

“Now more than ever, the United States faces tremendous challenges around the world. As the Obama Administration works to address the global refugee crisis; the threat from ISIS and other extremist groups; Russian aggression in Ukraine; violence and a lack of economic opportunities in Central America; global health challenges including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and the Zika virus; and the dangers posed by North Korea’s nuclear and offensive cyber capabilities, we must remain fully engaged around the world.  That engagement starts with a robust international affairs budget.

“International affairs investments are our first line of defense.  If we’re unable to prevent a crisis before it explodes, we must often turn to costly relief efforts or military action, putting American lives on the line.  It comes down to this: when we don't make diplomacy and foreign assistance a top priority, we're telling the American people that we'd rather save on the margin now, even if it means sending our sons and daughters into harm's way somewhere down the road.  And we’re telling the world that American leadership isn't a sure thing.

“As Congress moves ahead with the 2017 spending bills, we should bear in mind that the foreign affairs budget isn’t just a number in a column or a negotiating point.  These resources help improve people’s lives, promote stability, defuse conflict, and spread democracy and the rule of law around the world. In short, it makes America safer.  We can’t meet these challenges halfway or choose one this year and another next year.  What we spend should be equal to the task before us—and the issues we’re grappling with on the global stage aren’t getting any simpler.”