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President's 2009 International Affairs Budget

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
Washington, DC
March 12, 2008

(10:10 a.m. EDT)

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. And I would like to thank you, Madame Chairwoman, and I'd like to thank the Committee. This indeed is my last appearance before you as Secretary of State to discuss the President's 2009 budget request and also to discuss in any way that you would like the foreign policy challenges that we face to which that budget request is applicable.

I want you to know that I really do appreciate the spirit with which this committee has worked with me. We have achieved a lot. We have not always agreed, but I believe that the work that we’ve done together has served the country well. And it has indeed been a quite momentous time. You have made it possible for the State Department to engage in transformational diplomacy by being willing to support new positions. And indeed, as you know, the President has made a significant request this time for nearly 1,100 new diplomats, Foreign Service officers, and 300 USAID personnel.

We believe that after all the work that we’ve done to reposition personnel to more important places -- not more important places, but places that are in need of our efforts -- that it is time to significantly expand the capabilities of our diplomatic corps and USAID. And I ask your support for this initiative because I think it will be very important and an important groundwork that we can leave to our successors.

Many of you have also been very supportive of the efforts that we are making to make the State Department more responsive to the kinds of crises that we now face through civilian response. And you mentioned, Madame Chairwoman, that it is lodged in the State Department. That’s right. But what the President has done is to give the State Department interagency responsibility, and that is because we believe that it needs to be under the general direction of American foreign policy and therefore under the Secretary of State. But I can assure you that the efforts of USAID, the Defense Department and indeed others would be coordinated through that effort.

You’ve also helped us with matters of increasing security needs, our facilities needs, to increase our efforts in public diplomacy and exchanges -- something that I first said to this committee that we wanted to be able to do, and we continue to increase our efforts there. We have -- in this period of time we have doubled foreign assistance for Latin America, we have quadrupled it for Africa, we have increased it three times worldwide. I think it is really a record that we can be proud of, and that is a record that we can be proud of together because without you it would not have happened.

We are, of course, engaged in a number of high-priority foreign policy items, and I’m sure we will have a chance to talk about those. But I would just like to ask you, in addition to looking at the 2009 budget request, to act quickly on the balance of the 2008 Global War on Terror Supplemental -- very important to our near-term operating and foreign assistance efforts in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in places that are really at the front line in the war on terror. And I ask your support for that effort.

I have a longer statement, Madame Chairwoman, but in the interest of being able to really engage, I would ask that the longer statement be placed for the record and I can now take your questions.


Released on March 11, 2008

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