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HomeGovernmentOpening Remarks by Secretary Antony J. Blinken Before the Senate Appropriations Committee...

Opening Remarks by Secretary Antony J. Blinken Before the Senate Appropriations Committee On “A Review of the National Security Supplemental Request”

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you very much.  Chair Murray, Vice Chair Collins, distinguished members of the Appropriations Committee, thank you for this opportunity to testify before you today. 

CHAIRWOMAN MURRAY:  I do recognize that people feel very passionately, but I ask that we have order in this hearing room and respect our speakers.  We will move forward with the hearing and allow the people here and the American people to hear from their witnesses. 

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you, Chair. 

Two and a half years ago, our adversaries assessed that the United States was becoming permanently divided at home, alienated from our allies and partners around the world.  Working together, we have demonstrated that America’s resilience, its strength, and leadership in the world remain unmatched.

We’ve made historic investments in the source of America’s strength at home:  our democracy, our infrastructure, our economic and technological competitiveness.  We’ve invested in the modernization of our military.  And we’ve invested in our greatest strategic asset abroad:  our network of allies and partners, which is growing larger, stronger, more united, and more capable than ever.

We’re standing up for our interests and values, not shrinking back.  Not in the face of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.  Not in the face of an intensifying strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific and around the world. 

CHAIRWOMAN MURRAY:  If the witness will suspend.  And I ask that everyone again respect this hearing.  We will suspend until the room is cleared. 

CHAIRWOMAN MURRAY:  Thank you.  [Secretary] Blinken, if you can continue, please.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  As I said, we’re standing up for our interests and values, not shrinking back.  Not in the face of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.  Not in the face of intensifying strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific and around the world.  Not in the face of terrorism and its state sponsors.  And America does not stand alone.  We built extraordinary coalitions with friends who carry their share of the burden, which I’m happy to come back to. 

Our adversaries and competitors alike recognize that our strategies are working – and they continue to do everything they can to disrupt us.  We now stand at a moment where many are again making the bet that we’re too divided, we’re too distracted at home to stay the course.  That’s what’s at stake with President Biden’s national security supplemental funding request.

The President’s request would secure the urgent resources that we need to continue to lead. Secretary Austin and I believed it important for us to be here together today because, in this mission, as in so much that we do to advance America’s national security, our defense, our diplomacy, our development must work hand-in-hand. 

CHAIRWOMAN MURRAY:  Committee will suspend.  And again, I appreciate that people feel passionately about these issues.  I would ask that you respect our witnesses and our committee members and allow the American people to hear their testimony.  We will pause until the room is cleared.

CHAIRWOMAN MURRAY:  Thank you, Secretary Blinken.  If you can continue, please.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you, Chair.

The President’s funding request has four key elements.

First, it provides for our enduring support to Israel and Ukraine, two democracies under brutal assault by actors determined to wipe their nations off the map.

It will ensure that Israel can continue to defend its people by building up the diplomatic, security, and intelligence support that the United States has surged since Hamas’s appalling slaughter.  I know that several –

CHAIRWOMAN MURRAY:  The committee will suspend.  And I again ask that those in the audience respect the people in the room and allow us to continue the hearing.  The hearing will suspend until the disruption is removed.

CHAIRWOMAN MURRAY:  Thank you, Secretary Blinken.  If you can continue, please. 

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  So I was saying I know that several committee members have traveled to Israel over the last three weeks.  They’ve heard directly from Israeli officials what they need to defend their people and prevent another attack like this one.  And that’s exactly what the supplemental provides, with 3.7 billion for security needs, including to help Israel bolster its air and missile defense systems.  The supplemental also requests additional authority to draw down DOD stocks and enhances the security of our embassy.

As President Biden has made clear from the outset, while Israel has the right – indeed, it has the obligation – to defend itself, the way it does so matters.  In our discussions with the Israeli government, the President and I have both stressed the need for Israel to operate by the rule of —

CHAIRWOMAN MURRAY:  The committee will suspend.

Secretary Blinken, you may continue.  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you, Chair.  So I was saying the President and I have both stressed in our conversations with the Israeli government the need for Israeli to operate by the law of war and in accordance with international humanitarian law, and to take all possible measures to avoid civilian casualties.

For Ukraine, President Biden is requesting 16.3 billion to supply Ukraine’s defense, without which Russia will move quickly to try to seize and exploit any possible opening, and to ensure that Ukraine can sustain the economic base and recovery that its war effort depends on.  This funding will not only rebuild Ukraine’s economy and offset the damage wrought by Russia, but it will also help to reimagine it, investing in new industries, infrastructure, and supply chains connected to Europe and to the world – secure and resilient clean energy, anti-corruption bodies, civil society, media.  To be strong enough to deter and defend against aggressors beyond its borders, Ukraine needs a resilient economy and a vibrant democracy within its borders.

Since Russia launched its war, the robust funding supported by Congress has enabled the people of Ukraine in their courageous fight to defend their nation.  It’s helped make sure that Russia’s invasion and strategic —

CHAIRWOMAN MURRAY:  The committee will suspend.

Thank you, and before I turn it back over to you, Secretary Blinken, I just really want to thank the Capitol Police for their very calm and professional manner.  We all appreciate it.  Secretary Blinken, can you please continue?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.

CHAIRWOMAN MURRAY:  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  So to continue, since Russia launched its war, the robust funding provided by Congress has enabled the people of Ukraine in their courageous fight to defend their nation.  It’s helped make sure that Russia’s invasion is a strategic debacle, making it weaker in nearly every way.  And it’s rallied the world in defense of Ukraine and of the principles at the heart of the United Nations Charter – sovereignty, territorial independence – integrity, excuse me – and independence. 

Our partners are making significant contributions to share the burden of assistance.  Turning our backs on their efforts would have lasting implications for our own security and our own standing in the world.  The conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East have clear links, as both the chair and vice chair have noted.  Since we cut off Russia’s traditional means of supplying its military, it’s turned more and more to Iran for assistance.  In return, Moscow has supplied Iran with increasingly advanced military technology, which poses a threat to Israel’s security.  Allowing Russia to prevail with Iran’s support will simply embolden both Moscow and Iran.

Second, this funding will enable us to tackle grave humanitarian needs created by autocrats and terrorists, as well as by conflict and natural disasters in Ukraine, in Gaza, in Sudan, in Armenia, and other places around the world.  Food, water, medicine, other essential humanitarian assistance resilience must be able to flow into Gaza.  Civilians must be able to stay out of harm’s way, a task that’s made even more difficult as Hamas uses civilians as human shields, and humanitarian pauses must be considered. 

Helping prevent a worsening humanitarian catastrophe aligns with our nation’s most deeply held principles, including our belief that every civilian life is equally valuable, equally worthy of protection.  Without swift and sustained humanitarian relief, the conflict is much more likely to spread, suffering will grow, and Hamas and its sponsors will benefit by fashioning themselves as the saviors of the very desperation that they created.

Humanitarian assistance is also vital to Israel’s security.  Providing immediate aid and protection for Palestinian civilians in this conflict is a necessary foundation for finding partners in Gaza who have a different vision for the future than Hamas – and who are willing to help make it real.

Third, this funding is critical to outcompeting our strategic rivals.  This request will bolster deterrence.  It will support our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific to address threats from an increasingly assertive PRC and to meet emerging challenges.  It will uphold our commitment to our allies, including under our trilateral security partnership with Australia and the United Kingdom, AUKUS.  And it will help countries transition to military and defense equipment that’s made in America.

The President’s request also includes resources for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to provide alternatives to China’s coercive financing for our partners in the developing world.  It will also help ease the impact of spillovers of Russia’s war on food and energy security for the world’s most vulnerable.  The proposed 2 billion appropriation and requested authorizations would generate almost 50 billion in additional development funding capacity for the World Bank and the IMF – an enormous return on our investment, demonstrating U.S. leadership in meeting urgent global challenges.

Fourth and finally, the supplemental will make critical investments to protect the security of Americans here at home.  That includes addressing the hemispheric challenge of irregular migration, strengthening our defense industrial base to ensure our military continues to be ready, capable, and the best-equipped fighting force in the world, and that we remain the arsenal for democracy.  More than 50 billion of the security assistance funding will replenish U.S. military stocks, strengthen our defense industrial base, and will be spent through American businesses.

Each of these investments work together to achieve our mission: a stronger, safer, brighter future, where America can lead from a position of strength.  Let us come together and demonstrate to one another and to the world that we can rise to this moment.

I also hear very much the passions expressed in this room and outside this room.  All of us are committed to the protection of civilian life.  All of us know the suffering that is taking place as we speak.  All of us are determined to see it end.  But all of us know the imperative of standing up with our allies and partners when their security, when their democracies are threatened.  That’s what’s happening now.  We stand resolutely with them even as we stand resolutely for the protection of innocent civilians.

Before I close, I’d just like to thank senators for their vote today to send the President’s ambassadorial nominee, Jack Lew, to Israel at this critical time.  And I encourage the Senate to do the same for the 26 other nominees waiting for their vote.

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

Official news published at https://www.state.gov/opening-remarks-by-secretary-antony-j-blinken-before-the-senate-appropriations-committee-on-a-review-of-the-national-security-supplemental-request/

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