FY2011 Budget for the Department of State
Secretary of State
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: (In progress) – Operations, and Related Programs will come to order. The Subcommittee on State Foreign Operations and Related Programs are delighted to welcome to our subcommittee Secretary Clinton. As always, it's an honor to have you with us. Your dedicated service and tireless efforts have taken you to over 47 -- it's hard to believe -- 47 countries in just one year. Your hard work as our nation's chief diplomat is respected and appreciated and has had an enormous impact.
After many years of decline, global attitudes about the United States are on the rise. According to the most recent Pew Research Center survey, "The image of the United States has improved markedly in most parts of the world." In many countries, opinions of the United States are about as positive as they were at the beginning of the decade. Our challenges are many, and your effective representation of the United States facilitates stronger multilateral partnerships to address global threats like instability in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, as well as Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Along with defense, diplomacy and development are essential elements of our national security strategy. With this budget request, the Administration seeks diplomacy and development funding levels that will result in longer-term savings as we transition from the military to civilians in Iraq and work to prevent instability by addressing the root causes of conflict.
But as we strive to foster greater stability and security overseas through smart power, we face pressing domestic needs. While there are signs of recovery in the economy, with 10 percent unemployment, the mounting federal debt and budget deficit, the creation of jobs and economic security for American families must be the primary focus of this Congress. There is no doubt that this will make it difficult to sustain and expand all the priorities laid out in the President's budget request. However, I am optimistic that we can balance our domestic and international priorities.
If we are to increase our assistance in this time of economic security at home, we must ensure that every dollar is well spent. And frankly, I'm troubled by recent SIGIR -- SIGIR OIG reports on democracy assistance and police training in Iraq, large power projects in Afghanistan and development programs in FATA. The 2011 budget and 2010 supplemental requests for significant increases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq require accountability to the U.S. taxpayer. Despite the difficult operating environments to gain the trust and funding from this Congress, recommendations of the Inspector Generals should be implemented expeditiously.
Madam Secretary, in this context we turn to the President's fiscal year 2011 budget request for the programs and activities within the jurisdiction of the State Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittees. At a total of 56.6 billion, it is 5.4 billion or 11 percent above the comparable fiscal year 2010 level with over two-thirds of the increase for diplomacy and development in the frontline states of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. The balance of the increase continues the rebuilding of civilian staff at the Department of State and USAID and prioritizes three key issues: global health, climate change, and food security.
I'm particularly pleased the budget rebalances the roles between the Department of Defense and the Department of State. The request of 1.2 billion for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund coupled with the doubling of funding for the Complex Crisis Fund in lieu of funding for DOD's Section 1207 should ensure the State Department's effective evaluation and implementation of these programs in the context of our overall foreign policy.
Increases for critical development, global climate change, food security, global health are clearly aimed at creating the necessary conditions in developing countries for the growth of democracy, economic expansion, and ultimately, increased stability, priorities we all share.
I applaud your emphasis on global health, which has proven to be one of our most effective interventions. While nearly 2.8 million people became infected with HIV/AIDS in 2008, this figure reflects a 20 percent decline in new infections compared to 2000, which is quite an accomplishment. Clearly, our efforts are making a difference.
Accountability and results and PEPFAR programs are also reflected in the Administration's Global Health Initiative. Coordinating with USAID's global health programs, they will complement one another as well as the investments made by other country donors and the private sector like the Gates Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative, Nike Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and many more. And working together, which is an issue we've been talking about for a long time, provides efficiency and effectiveness.
Unfortunately, the budget did not prioritize basic education, an issue that we both championed for many years. Education is the essential foundation for health, economic development, gender equality, and long-term security. I am concerned that the requested cuts of nearly 100 million for this critical priority could compromise our development goals. This subcommittee will examine this proposal very closely. I hope you'll work with us to restore funding to this program.
In addition, in your remarks I hope you'll address questions regarding the Administration's strategy for stopping Iran's quest for nuclear weapons, the justification for supplemental funding in light of previous assurances that regular appropriations would address recurrent needs, Yemen's ability to be a consistent partner in our fight against al-Qaida, and the status of the Middle East peace negotiations among, I'm sure, many other issues.
Finally, I want to thank the State Department for really your extraordinary efforts to coordinate the response in Haiti. All of us are following the humanitarian response closely and are moved by the spirit and resilience of the Haitian people. And frankly, I was extraordinarily moved and I continue to be extraordinarily moved and proud to be an American to see our presence there.
We look forward to working with you to ensure that adequate resources are provided for this humanitarian response. Reconstruction activities must be preceded by careful planning, oversight, and guarantees that the money will be well spent.
So thank you again, Madam Secretary, for your service. I would now like to turn to my esteemed Ranking Member, Kay Granger.
MS. GRANGER: Thank you, Madam Chair. I want to thank Secretary Clinton for appearing before the subcommittee today to explain the Administration's budget priorities for the State Department and foreign assistance programs.
Madam Secretary, let me first say that I strongly support the objectives you seek to achieve with the FY budget request and the FY10 supplemental. However, even though the subcommittee has only begun to receive the details of this budget request, the top line numbers are startling in their size. No matter how you frame the budget proposal, there's a double-digit increase for international affairs. Given the daunting fiscal situation this country is facing, I would not be of service to my constituents or my own conscience if I didn’t pledge to examine the increase carefully and with some skepticism.
I do recognize that the entire supplemental request and a large portion of the FY budget request supports the frontline states of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, as Madam Chair discussed. But it was only last year that the Administration made a pledge to move away from supplemental appropriations. The subcommittee will take a close look at whether all of the 4.5 billion requested in the supplemental is, in fact, an emergency requirement when billions of dollars provided for these countries remain unobligated or unspent. There's no doubt, though, that the work being done in these countries is critical to achieving our national security and foreign policy objectives.
I want to thank the men and women of this country in various federal agencies for serving in the most difficult of circumstances overseas. They need our bipartisan support to achieve success.
The budget request also includes a transition of some activities in these frontline states from the Department of Defense to the Department of State. I applaud the Administration for looking across the government to determine which agency is the appropriate lead, especially when our troops are already being asked to take on so much as we continue to fight two wars. But it is equally important to be sure that the State Department is ready to take on all of these responsibilities. These functions are much too critical to be delayed or to be done ineffectively.
The Administration's budget request also includes billions of dollars in new resources for climate change, food security, and global health. I worry that these significant multi-year commitments don't take into account the fiscal realities this country and this Congress face, and I want to hear more about the promises made by the Executive Branch.
I pledge to work with my colleagues to extract details about these commitments, place oversight requirements on the funding provided, and keep a close eye on taxpayer dollars as programs are implemented.
Madam Secretary, you have an enormous task in front of you. We all recognize that. We cannot let our efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Pakistan fail. We can't let other countries become breeding grounds for extremism. We can't let Iran's nuclear ambitions go unchecked. And we can't walk away from the fight against drug trafficking in this hemisphere. I know that you know that.
In closing, I understand that balancing these and many other competing priorities around the world is not easy. I support your goal of having the right people in the right places so the United States can overcome these challenges. I assure you I will work to give you the resources you need. However, there are many needs in this country as well and this committee has a responsibility to ensure that our tax dollars are used efficiently and in a transparent method. My colleagues and I take that responsibility very seriously. We look forward to working with you so that we can better understand the full details of the budget request before us.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Thank you. And welcome again, Madam Secretary. Please proceed with your -- please proceed.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you, Chairwoman Lowey, Ranking Member Granger, members of the subcommittee, Chairman of the full committee Obey, it’s a pleasure to be here with you today. When I was last here to discuss our budget, I emphasized my commitment to elevating diplomacy and development as core pillars of American power. And since then, I have been heartened by the bipartisan support of this committee and the rest of Congress. So let me take a minute to thank you on behalf of the men and women of the State Department and USAID who work every day around the world to put our foreign policy into action.
The budget we are presenting today is designed to protect America and Americans and to advance our interests. Our fiscal year 2011 request for the State Department and USAID totals $52.8 billion. That is a $4.9 billion increase over 2010. Of that increase, $3.6 billion will go to supporting efforts in “frontline states” – Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. Other funding will grow by $1.3 billion, or a 2.7 percent increase, that will help us address global challenges, strengthen essential partnerships, and ensure that the State Department and USAID are equipped with the right people and resources to meet the challenges of our time.
Over the past six weeks in Haiti, we have been reminded yet again of the importance of American leadership. I am very proud of what our country has done, and we continue to work with our Haitian and international partners to address ongoing suffering and to help them move from relief to recovery.
Yet I also know this is a time of great economic strain for so many Americans. As a former member of Congress, I know what this means for the people you represent. For every dollar we spend, we have to show results. That is why this budget must support programs vital to our national security, our national interests, and our leadership in the world, while guarding against waste, duplication, and irrelevancy. And I believe it achieves those objectives.
Now, these figures in the budget are more than just numbers on a page. They tell the story of the challenges we face and the resources we request to overcome them.
We are fighting two wars that call on the skill and sacrifice of our civilians as well as our troops. We have embarked on a dual-track approach to Iran that has led to a growing consensus and a new unity with our international partners. Because of our efforts at engagement under the President’s leadership, we are now coming together with our countries to meet Iran’s continuing refusal to live up to its obligations with a unified and effective response.
We are fighting two wars that call on the skill and sacrifice of our civilians as well as our troops. And we believe strongly that that what we are doing is essential to achieving our objectives. Specifically, as you mentioned it with Iran, we believe that the President’s offer of engagement, combined with the dual-track approach, has left the international community little choice but to impose greater costs for its provocative steps.
With China, we are seeking areas of common purpose while standing firm where we differ. We are making concrete the promise of a new beginning with the Muslim world. We are strengthening partnerships with allies in Europe and Asia, with our friends in our hemisphere, and with countries from India to Indonesia, from South Africa to Brazil and Turkey. And we are working every day to end the impasse between Israelis and Palestinians.
At the same time, we are developing a new architecture of cooperation to meet global challenges like climate change and the use of our planet’s oceans. In so many instances, our national interest and the common interest converge, and so we are promoting human rights, the rule of law, democracy, and internet freedom; we are fighting poverty, hunger, and disease; and working to ensure that economic growth is broadly shared.
Our agenda is ambitious because the times demand it. America is called to lead and we have no alternative. We can bury our heads in the sand and pay the consequences later, or we can make hard-nosed, targeted investments now.
Let me just highlight three areas where we’re making significant new investments. First, the security of frontline states.
In Afghanistan, we have tripled the number of civilians in one year on the ground, and this presence will grow by hundreds more with the $5 billion in this budget. Our diplomats and development experts are going in to Marjah with our troops. They are embedded with our troops. They are, as we speak, working to help set up institutions of government, expand economic opportunities, particularly in agriculture, and provide meaningful alternatives for insurgents ready to renounce violence.
In Pakistan, our request includes $3.2 billion to combat extremism, promote economic development, strengthen democratic institutions, and build a long-term relationship with the Pakistani people. This includes funding of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman initiative. Our request also includes a 59 percent increase in funding for Yemen to help counter the extremist threat brought to our shores by al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula and to build institutions and economic opportunity as an alternative.
In Iraq, we are winding down our military presence and establishing a more normal civilian mission. Our civilian efforts will not and cannot mirror the scale of our military presence, but rather provide assistance consistent with the priorities of the Iraqi Government. So our request includes $2.6 billion to help support the democratic process and ensure a smooth transition from the Department of Defense to civilian-led security training and operational support. These funds will allow civilians to take full responsibility, and at the same time the Defense budget for Iraq will be decreasing by about $16 billion. That’s a powerful illustration of the return on civilian investment.
We are blessed with the best military in the world, as we have seen time and again in today’s wars. But we need to give our civilian experts the resources to do the job expected of them. This budget takes a step in the right direction. It includes $100 million for a State Department complex crises fund – replacing the 1207 fund through which the Defense Department directed money toward crisis response. And it includes support for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund, which previously also fell under the Defense Department.
The second major area is investing in development. So this budget makes targeted investments in fragile societies – which, in our interconnected world, bear heavily on our own security and prosperity. These investments are a key part of our efforts to get ahead of crises instead of just responding to them all the time. I think it’ll help us be better positioned to deal with them and maybe prevent them, and I believe also can be less expensive.
The first of these is in health. Building on our progress treating HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis, our Global Health Initiative will invest $63 billion over six years, starting with $8.5 billion in FY11, to help our partners address specific diseases and to build strong, sustainable health systems for themselves.
The Administration has also pledged to invest at least $3.5 billion in food security over three years, and this year’s request includes $1.6 billion, of which $1.2 billion will be funded through the State Department. This funding will focus on countries that have developed effective, comprehensive strategies, where agriculture is central to prosperity and hunger remains widespread.
On climate change, our request for $646 million seeks to promote the United States as a leader in green technology and to leverage other countries’ cooperation – including through the Copenhagen Accord, which for the first time brought together developed and developing countries. And this is part of the Administration’s total request of $1.4 billion to support core climate-change activities in developing nations.
Our request also includes $4.2 billion for humanitarian assistance programs. I think, again, our efforts in Haiti have made clear that State and USAID must be able to respond quickly and effectively to human tragedies.
These initiatives are designed to enhance American security, help people in need, and give the American people a strong return on their investment. Our aim is not to create or perpetuate dependency. We’re not going to be just aiming at giving fish to people forever. We want to teach them to fish and help them devise solutions that will be in their best interest over time. And essential to this is a focus on advancing equality and opportunity for women and girls, who are the key drivers of economic and social progress.
And that brings me to the final and third area of investment. None of what we propose can happen if we don’t recruit, train, and empower the right people for the job.
The State Department and USAID are full of talented and committed public servants, but we too often they have been missing the tools needed to carry out their missions on the ground. And rather than building their expertise over time, we have too often relied on contractors, sometimes with very little oversight and often at a greater cost.
This budget will allow us to expand the Foreign Service by over 600 positions, including an additional 410 for the State Department and 200 for USAID. It will also allow us to staff the standby element of the Civilian Reserve Corps, a crucial tool for responding to crises.
Now, while deploying these personnel does generate new expenses in some accounts, it will reduce expenses in others by changing the way we do business. We are ending an over-reliance on contractors. We are saving money by bringing functions into government and improving oversight. And we take very seriously the IG lessons that we are applying.
So I hope, Madam Chairwoman and Ranking Member, we can see from this budget that the United States State Department and USAID are taking the lead in helping to carry out foreign policy and national security. And as we finish the first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, we will have a unique opportunity to define the capabilities we need and match them with the resources and the priorities.
I hope that we will continue to be able to work together in the year ahead. This is essential if we’re going to enhance the security of Americans and assure the future of American leadership. And I look forward to that, as I look forward now to taking your questions.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Thank you, Madam Secretary. I’ll begin before I turn to my Ranking Member. I would like to ask two questions, one regarding Iran nuclear ambitions. You stated in your testimony that we face urgent challenges in the Middle East. The leadership in Iran is dominated by hardliners whose pursuit of nuclear weapons, support for terrorism through their Hamas and Hezbollah proxies, and assistance to armed groups in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to make Iran a threat to U.S. national security.
The need for immediate action is compounded by Iran’s notification to the IAEA that it will begin producing higher grade enriched uranium material, clearly intended for military weapons, which will ignite or maybe is igniting a regional arms race.
We are committed in the Congress to imposing tough sanctions, both bilateral and multilateral, to stop Iran in its tracks. We need assurances that the Administration is doing all it can to put pressure on Iran and those countries who are not fully cooperating with the sanction efforts. So if you can address the immediate next steps and timeline for imposing additional sanctions. You stated recently that sanctions should target those who actually make the regime’s decisions. How exactly will we target sanctions on the Revolutionary Guard and their front companies and the Iranian elite? What are you doing to prevent the UN Security Council from watering down any potential resolution and ensure that members, including Russia and China, fully support a tough and enforceable sanction regime? And if tough, binding sanctions cannot be passed in the Security Council, what steps will be taken with the Europeans and other willing countries to enforce crippling sanctions?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Congresswoman. We believe that the broader the consensus on sanctions against Iran, the more isolation and pressure that the Iranian Government will feel. And so it’s therefore important that we do everything we can to get the world to speak with one voice about Iran’s failures to live up to its responsibilities, about its refusal to engage seriously on its nuclear program, about the undisclosed facility revealed at Qom, about the rejection of the Tehran research reactor proposal.
It’s essential that we do everything we can to bring the rest of the world with us, and I would make three quick points about that. I believe that the President’s policy of engagement has actually assisted our argument very significantly. The world has seen the United States willing to talk with Iran and we’ve seen Iran unwilling to talk seriously with the United States or anyone else. The fact that under President Obama’s leadership we were willing to do so has made much of the rest of the world much more responsive than they would have otherwise been.
And so we are pursuing intensely diplomatic engagement around the issue and the content of sanctions. The State Department has worked closely with the Treasury Department in devising sanctions on individuals, on institutions, in areas of the economy, on a range of potential targets that we are now working to translate into a Security Council resolution.
I actually believe that we’ve had very productive conversations. I personally have engaged in many different settings over the last month, in London when I was there for the Afghanistan conference in the Gulf where I just was, and then next week in Latin America. But I want to underscore that our efforts in the United Nations does not preclude us from taking additional national measures or working with other countries to take additional multilateral measures. We very well could supplement any resolution that we get in New York. And I think that what the Congress has done, we support the purpose and principle of the legislation passed in both houses. We’re working to make sure that we have the strongest possible approach about how we can effectively impact Iran. And we’re hoping that we’ll see some positive results coming in the weeks ahead.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Ms. Granger.
MS. GRANGER: Thank you. We’ve all been concerned about the growing threat of extremism in places like Yemen. Certainly, the Christmas Day failed terrorism plot brought that to everyone’s attention. Funding was provided by this subcommittee to allow the State Department to significantly increase economic and military aid to Yemen by 60 percent FY10. That doesn't count the DOD plans to provide for counterterrorism or security assistance.
I have several questions. First, when does the Administration plan to consult with the subcommittee on its plans for FY10 and can you provide a preview of what types of activities you intend to support with the estimated $67 million available? What additional focus does the Administration foresee for the 106 million requested for FY11?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Congresswoman, we are working very hard to facilitate economic opportunity in Yemen that is combined with our counterterrorism efforts so that we really are approaching Yemen in a more comprehensive way. It’s clear that the growth of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is a threat far beyond the borders of Yemen, reaching our own shores. So there has been an increase in military funding and training, intelligence support, and other activities directly aimed at empowering the government to go after al-Qaida. And in the last several months, we’ve seen evidence of the success of that. The Yemeni military has raided training camps, arrested and killed a number of terrorists.
At the same time, our assessment of Yemen is that we have to strengthen the institutions of the country and the economic opportunities available to the people of the country. I recently represented the United States at a conference about Yemen in London. It was very well attended because we are by far – we are not the biggest contributor. Other countries in the Gulf and Europe are also contributing to Yemen. But we’re working at a united effort from the international community aimed at going after the terrorists, strengthening the military capacity of Yemen, and creating a development strategy in concert with the Yemeni Government.
MS. GRANGER: I was aware of the conference that you attended, and my understanding is the last conference was held was 2006 and there were $5 billion in pledges but most of that had not been delivered. Is my information correct?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is correct. And the reason, I think is clear, that people did not believe that the Government of Yemen was ready to receive either the money or the message that came with the money. But the situation has evolved to an extent where we now believe that the Yemenis are prepared to be a better partner. But we’re going to be working hard to hold them accountable and I’ve discussed this at length with a lot of the other countries that are investing in Yemen’s economic development. And I can’t sit here today and tell you that we know what the outcome is going to be, because we have to do several things simultaneously. But one indication of the seriousness of Yemen today vis-à-vis perhaps four or five years ago is they came equipped with a national development plan which included a very candid assessment of their own problems. And that was the first anybody had seen of that. So we’re hoping to build on what seems to be a new resolve from Yemen.
MS. GRANGER: Thank you, Madam Secretary and Madam Chair. And I would hope that you would keep us informed as to your plans and how our money will be used in Yemen. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, ma’am.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Thank you. And I’ll be calling on members based on seniority of the members that were present when the hearing was called to order and I’ll alternative between majority and minority. Each member is asked to keep their questions to within five minutes per round.
MR. OBEY: Madam Secretary, Eric Sevareid said that we needed to retain the courage of one’s doubts in an age of dangerous certainties. And I guess I’m reminded of that every time I think about our policy in Iraq and Iran – I mean, and Afghanistan. I am concerned that in the end there’s going to be tremendous pressure for us not to maintain our scheduled withdrawal from Iraq and I’m dubious that that in the end the government of Afghanistan or Pakistan will be sufficiently constant and trustworthy to enable our policy in that region to succeed.
But let me put that aside for the moment and simply ask one question. To date, we’ve appropriated over a trillion dollars for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. This year, we have appropriated 73 billion for Afghanistan and 57 for Iraq. In the coming year, the Administration is asking for 167 billion, 122 of that for Afghanistan, 45 for Iraq. CBO has estimated the cost to maintain a minimal level of 40,000 troops in or near Iraq could be as high as 25 billion per year. The total cost of the Iraq war over 20 years could be well over one trillion dollars, all paid for with deficit spending. Over the next 10 years, at a minimum, we’re likely to spend 300 billion in Afghanistan and 250 billion in Iraq. Many hundreds of billions more will be required to fulfill our obligations to veterans of those wars.
And I’m not sure exactly what that means in terms of lifetime costs, but I am certain it’s going to wind up being well over $2 trillion. Now, in the past, our governments actually paid for their wars. In October, Abraham Lincoln’s salary was 3 percent less in 1862 than it was the year before because Congress passed an income tax in order to pay for that war. World War I, two tax laws were passed in 1916, the Revenue Act and the War Revenue Act of 1917. Even before we entered World War II, taxes were raised in 1940 to support increased defense spending. In the Korean War, we once again saw a substantial increase in taxes. The same was true during Vietnam. It’s only been in the last 30 years or so that our political leaders have chosen to cut taxes even as they substantially boosted spending, first on the Cold War and then on several hot wars.
I raise this question simply to make – or to ask you two questions. Number one, what does the Administration estimate the lifetime costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to be? And secondly, why should we not at least pay for the cost of conducting our effort in Afghanistan? I know that that decision is above your pay grade, but nonetheless, I mean, we’ve just seen a whole lot of talk about having a commission appointed in order to deal with mandatory costs, and yet we’re continuing to borrow to pay for these wars. There is no sense of shared sacrifice in this country. The only people sacrificing are military families. Everybody else, we just get to put it on the cuff and it goes to the next generation.
Mr. Murtha and I and 14 others have sponsored legislation suggesting that we ought to, on a delayed basis, at least begin to collect the costs of these wars. We would not have raised a war surtax during the recession. We would have given the President the authority to waive that for at least another year and a half. But eventually, we wanted to send the signal that we were willing to pay for these, especially when we’re being asked to freeze domestic discretionary spending for three years. Why shouldn’t we pay cash on the barrel head for this effort so that regardless of our doubts about the endeavor that we don’t wind up having to severely impinge upon what we need to do here at home because of the cost of that war.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Chairman Obey, if I may speak personally, it is heartbreaking to me that 10 years ago we had a balanced budget and we were on the way to paying down the debt of the United States of America. I served on the Budget Committee and I watched with such consternation as we threw away the greatest leverage we would ever have internationally and the greatest opportunity we would ever have to right the generational imbalance that existed.
But we are today where we are today and we have been in the midst of a recession, as you rightly point out. But I believe strongly that we have to address this deficit and the debt of the United States as a matter of national security, not only as a matter of economics. And I’m not going to comment on the prerogatives of the Congress to determine how best to do that, other than to say sitting where I sit today, I do not like to be in a position where the United States is a debtor nation to the extent that we are with the projections going far into the future – the kind of disadvantages that that implies for our ability to protect our security, to manage difficult problems, and to show the leadership that we deserve.
So I would certainly think that there has to be great attention paid and the moment of reckoning cannot be put off forever. But again, that is within the prerogative of the Congress to determine.
I do not have a lifetime estimate for the costs of the two wars, but we will get that to you based on our best assessment.
But I share the concern that you and others on both sides of the aisle are expressing and I wish I could turn the clock back. I really, honestly wish we could turn the clock back, because we threw away the opportunity of not just one lifetime but all lifetimes in our country to put ourselves on the strongest possible financial footing that would have given us and future generations so much more security than we do now financially have.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Mr. Rehberg.
MR. REHBERG: Thank you, Madam Chair. I’m going to miss the opportunity to address a couple of the gratuitous comments that have been made by the committee in the opening and some of the responses because diplomacy did not end in 2000. It did occur. And I think that you would probably have to agree with that. And so while some of us were new in the Bush Administration, diplomacy did occur. And I had to opportunity to travel with Chairman Kolbe and others on this committee and appreciated that opportunity to see some of the great things that occurred, whether it be the MCC Challenge or – Millennium Challenge, or the AIDS initiative in Africa that this Administration has accepted and embraced and continues.
And the deficit and the debt did grow. We were on a path to reducing the debt. I’m sorry we inherited a situation called September 11th. When I first showed up in 2001, I didn’t anticipate that we were going to be confronted with an act of terrorism that was not expected. And far be it from me to suggest that maybe the administration before the Bush Administration ignored the threats and didn’t allow us an opportunity to be safe going in to September 11th. So I’d like to see some of the partisan politics that I sense in this hearing maybe end with my comments and move on to some of the things that are more substantive as far as foreign operations and our relationship with the world and such. So that’s part of my comment.
The Haitian relief – I want to thank you for the fine work that occurred with the Administration. As far as the orphans issue, one of the things that we saw – and I had parents that were concerned – and we were along in the process as far as the adoptions. In some ways, UNICEF became an impediment or a barrier. Is there a procedure in place that you’re looking at or trying to improve the adoption situation for interstate adoption within countries that we deal with for emergency purposes where, if they’re along a certain path and they have an opportunity to be moved through the process quicker for the safety of the children, and I think we all are interested in that, that maybe some of the impediments or the problems – and forget the Idaho situation. That was an anomaly. But there were other situations where Montana parents were ready, they were within days of receiving their children through the process, and whether it was a visa that the passport had already been granted, they weren’t allowed that opportunity because UNICEF got involved and they seemed to have an inherent objection or opposition to interstate adoption and created a problem for bringing these children out.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I don’t believe that UNICEF has any objection to intercountry adoption that we are aware of. We’ll certainly double-check that. But on your larger question about dealing with orphans, it’s a matter of great personal concern to me and also to the professional staff at the State Department. And what we are attempting to do is move on several fronts simultaneously. One, we think it’s very important to help countries understand how they can better run their own adoption systems. A lot of countries culturally don’t believe in adoption; they don’t have any experience of adoption and they are quite skeptical and suspicious of the whole idea.
At the same time, we sometimes move more quickly than other cultures would accept in declaring someone an orphan who might have a relative somewhere down the line. And yet there are no real capabilities in these countries to search for and reunite children with the family members in an extended family.
Haiti was a particularly challenging circumstance because all the records were – not all of them, but the vast majority of them were destroyed. We moved very quickly and I’m very proud of the work that was done, because we have different responsibilities within our government. The State Department, Department of Homeland Security, HHS all have a piece of the responsibility. But if we could get the records which show that a child was in line to be adopted, we’ve moved those children. We’ve moved hundreds of them.
On the other hand, some people got a little over-anxious in their desire to help and tried to move children who still had family linkages or for whom there had been no process underway. We’re looking hard at what happened and trying to make sure that we have an expeditious but extremely careful process so that we don’t inadvertently engage in any transport of a child who indeed does have a family still back in Haiti.
But we appreciate the outpouring of generosity and love that so many Americans have demonstrated for children in Haiti and elsewhere around the world. And we’re looking at what more we can do to deal with the whole problem of orphans globally.
MR. REHBERG: I appreciate that because there were some problems that I think could be very easily solved. And we have a relationship and they were along in the process.
Real quickly – and I don’t want to get into the argument or the debate about private sector and contracting because there obviously are problems with contracting. It’s why you look at the defense budget. They’re every bit as able to pad budgets as any other area. So yeah, I just happen to be one of those that believes in oversight of every single arena out there.
But you’re asking for an additional 600 employees of the federal government under this budget. Could you tell me real quickly how many were in the last budget? If I remember correctly, and this is strictly off the top of my head, there was a request for an additional 2,000 employees in the last budget. So were those positions filled? Did you fill the 2,000 and this is 600 on top of the 2,000? So within the last three years – or two years, actually, we’re talking about 2,600 new federal employees as opposed to the equivalent reduction of private sector employees through contracting?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are putting these positions in the pipeline and we are filling them and we are training people. I can get you the exact numbers about where we are in the pipeline.
MR. REHBERG: I would like that, yes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: But part of the reason behind this is our assessment, number one, of the needs that we have. And I’ll just give you a quick example. We’ve closed consulates in some parts of the country – or parts of the world that are of great importance to us. Northern Nigeria, one of the largest Muslim populations in the world, a source of some religious conflict now – we closed that consulate years ago. I think we should have a consulate or at least some office there for the United States to have eyes and ears and hands on the ground there.
So we are moving to identify needs and fill those needs, and we can give you a very specific breakdown. But we are also moving to evaluate carefully contractors. We made a decision a few weeks ago to replace one contractor with a full-time position inside. And when you look at all the overhead and the costs associated with running the contract, we’re going to save hundreds of thousands of dollars from that one position.
MR. REHBERG: Thank you. Thanks, Madam Chairman.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Thank you, Mr. Rehberg. And I believe the 2,000 would include both the appropriated positions and the positions funded through passport and visa feeds.
MR. JACKSON: Thank you, Madam Chair. And I’d like to welcome Secretary Clinton back to the committee and thank her for her testimony. Secretary Clinton, in order to preserve my time, I’m going to ask you a few questions and save a couple of questions for the second round.
Before I go to the specifics of the budget, however, Madam Secretary, the Administration was widely criticized for its handling of the Christmas Day terror attack – a civilian airliner. The State Department had information, according to newspapers, from the perpetrator’s father before he boarded a plane. Can you share with the committee – and I understand that this question may also be appropriately addressed to the Secretary of Homeland Security. Can you share with us what steps the State Department took to provide information to the Department of Homeland Security that may have been provided by the perpetrator’s father to prevent that activity and anything that you might have that will convince the committee and share with the committee that this won’t happen again?
And secondly, for me, on another subject, it seems that this Administration’s resolve isn’t quite the same as John F. Kennedy’s resolve when the threat of weapons of mass destruction were 90 miles off the shore of America in 1962. I was born in 1965 so I missed the Cuban Missile Crisis, but from my read on history, it garnered a very different response from that administration. The idea of weapons of mass destruction in the post-9/11 world, however faulty the data, led the last administration to our present conflict in Iraq. The concern that al-Qaida is pursuing weapons of mass destruction has our nation in pursuit of al-Qaida in Afghanistan and around the globe. But in Iran, we know they are pursuing weapons of mass destruction. I’m wondering how the Administration justifies its approach to gradualism in light of the history of the past administrations on the question of weapons of mass destruction, particularly when they have found themselves off the shores of our country and/or off the shores given their proximity in the Middle East to our critical interests.
And lastly, a broader question about the Secretary’s request. There is this mood in Washington that we spend too much. When asked what spending we should cut, inevitably one of the first things mentioned is foreign aid. I don’t think some people realize that our foreign policy goes hand-in-hand with our national security policy. You’ve cited time and time again that defense, diplomacy, and development need to be treated equally for the U.S. to succeed overseas. In your testimony, you highlighted some of the Administration’s development and diplomatic priorities. Can you tell the committee why these priorities are critical to our national interest and our foreign policy be successful if we only emphasize defensive spending?
I thank you, Madam Secretary. And thank you, Madam Chair.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you, Congressman. With respect to the Christmas Day bomber incident, we have obviously studied very closely what the State Department actions were and what we can learn from that and what changes needed to be undertaken. The information that was brought to the attention of several government agencies within our Embassy in Abuja was immediately transmitted to the respective agencies, both in the intelligence community, to Homeland Security, and elsewhere.
But as has been studied very thoroughly, there wasn’t a connection up of a lot of that information. The gentleman, the father who came in, provided information which was followed up on, but the visa wasn’t revoked, because at the time, the correct spelling of the son’s name was not in the system. And when that information was received on November 19th that he had a visa, then the revocation consideration was undertaken.
The State Department, before Christmas, was involved in revocation decisions by discussing with the intelligence community whether a revocation would disrupt an ongoing investigation. There have been numerous cases in which a unilateral and uncoordinated revocation would have disrupted important investigations carried out by the FBI. And the FBI has testified to that.
So what we have concluded is that we’re going to exercise more immediate discretion even if it disrupts an investigation. So it’s not all on one side or all on the other side. But you should know, Congressman, that since 2001, the State Department has revoked 51,000 visas, including more than 1,700 with suspected links to terrorism. And in addition to the revocation authority, consular officers around the world in 2009 refused nearly 2 million visas.
So this is an enormous undertaking. When you sit across from somebody or they’re standing at the window in a consulate somewhere, it requires a lot of training and a lot of connecting up dots. And some might say, well, gee, in those 1,885,000-plus visas that you revoked, there were probably some people who shouldn’t have been. Well, yeah, and there probably were a lot of people who should have. So it’s a very difficult set of decisions that our people make every single day, and we have determined that we will take more unilateral authority. We’ve informed the FBI and others that that is going to be our policy.
So we are working very hard, along with Homeland Security, along with the CIA, the Director of National Intelligence, and others to be as smart and vigilant as we can. And because of the amount of travel and the numbers of visas, it’s an enormous undertaking. And we do the very best we can and we’re going to keep learning how to do it better.
With respect to Iran, we are engaged in very intensive diplomacy and my reading of what happened with President Kennedy is that is exactly what he did. It was high-stakes diplomacy. It was pushing hard to get the world community to understand going to the United Nations, making a presentation, getting international opinion against the placement of Russian weapons in Cuba, making a deal eventually with the Russians that led to the removal of the missiles. That is the kind of intensive, high-stakes diplomacy that I’m engaged in, that other members of our Administration are, because we take seriously the potential threat from Iran.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Madam Secretary, I just want to make one point before I turn to my colleagues. Unfortunately, the Department of Homeland Security, in my judgment, is not willing to change their policy of a 30-minute review before a plane takes off. Many of us have been pushing for a minimum of 24 hours, and in fact, the Secure Flight Program, which still is not online, considered 72 hours. So I just mention that to my colleague because I just brought it up about a half hour ago with the Secretary of Homeland Security and I think this is something we must push. There is no reason why you’re giving these investigators 30 minutes to review. There will always be stragglers, but I think we have to look at a 24-hour timeframe. Thank you.
MR. KIRK: Thank you, Madam Secretary. I just wanted to thank you again for backing the Afghan surge. You had that shootout with Vice President Biden; he was wrong, you were right. The President sided with you and the Marjah offensive is going well. We’ve nailed a number of top Taliban leaders now and a lot of good news from the troops.
You voted for the Armenian genocide resolution as a senator. I hope we do that and I hope the House of Representatives does that and you let that happen. I also want to thank you for having Cha-hee Stanfield, a representative of thousands of Korean Americans who haven’t met their North Korean relatives, meet with Bob King. And they very much appreciate that.
I just want to briefly call your attention to the plight of Christians in Iraq. We’ve had a number of killings in the run-up to the election there, and it would be an awful shame if, at the end of all this democratization in Iraq that it had no Christian community. And your continued attention, I would greatly appreciate it.
I want to raise two issues very briefly. First is, I understand that we’re going to do a land swap and I hope that this committee has no appropriated funds involved in the building of a new embassy in London. Great Britain is our best and most friendly ally, so the need to build a huge and expensive fortress seems to be extravagant. The report is that this new embassy will cost a billion dollars.
And just to recall, the largest building, the new building in Chicago, is the Trump Tower. It’s a four-star hotel and luxury offices and apartments. The 92 floors of the Trump Tower cost 847 million, so this proposed embassy in London is 18 percent more expensive than the luxury Trump Tower of 92 floors. It feels a bit like Buckingham Palace 2.0 and that seems utterly extravagant and I hope that you would not request this committee would support this at all because it seems like we’ve really run wild in the budget there.
I wanted to raise, though, a separate issue, which is with regard to Iran, that we are not sending a clear signal to the Iranians. And that’s – when you look at our policy from Tehran towards Washington, as opposed to Washington-Tehran, here’s what you see. We have a number of sanctions – I got a board here. As you know, in 1996, the Congress passed the Iran Sanctions Act and said if you invest more than $20 million in the Iran energy sector, you’re going to get hit with sanctions. The Congressional Research Service has now listed all of these companies in potential violation of the Iran Sanctions Act, and this is just the Congressional Research Service did that. Your team said we’ll answer the Congress back – about 60 Republicans and Democrats sent you a letter – within 45 days. Feltman had that. We’re now about 20 days after that. If the Iranians see that sanctions on the books are not enforced, then how would any future sanction in any way be a serious one?
Second, just two blocks from your office on the seventh floor of the State Department, the World Bank is still cutting checks to the Iranian Finance Ministry. So the last administration and this Administration are still allowing money to go from the World Bank to the Iranian Finance Ministry. Wow, what a confused signal that Ahmadinejad gets, getting a check cut from 1818 H Street in Washington, D.C., two blocks from the White House.
And last, we understand that 400 members of Congress have now backed the gasoline quarantine legislation in the House and Senate. My word from your team is we will not support a gasoline quarantine absent a UN Security Council resolution. And with Bill Burns, I took him through a thought experiment. I said I remember during the Clinton Administration when President Clinton very wisely waited for the UN Security Council to approve our action in Kosovo before taking military action against Yugoslavia. And he nodded and said yes. And I said that is absolutely wrong. President Clinton could not wait for the UN Security Council. The entire victory in Kosovo would have never happened if we had waited for the UN Security Council. There was no Security Council resolution possible. And President Clinton wisely did not wait for the gridlock in New York to stop him from saving 2 million Kosovars.
And so my question to you is: How about actually enforcing the Iran Sanctions Act against the 25 companies that we’ve already clearly identified in potential violation? How about cutting off World Bank funding to the Iranian Finance Ministry which is going on right now? And how about cutting loose from the UN Security Council, repeating the great success of your husband, and actually implementing measures which will succeed as they did in Yugoslavia?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first on Armenia, let me reiterate what the President said last year in April, that the best way for Turkey and Armenia to deal with their common historical past is to address it as part of their effort in moving forward. And there has been a very important dialogue leading to protocols between Armenia and Turkey which they have signed at a ceremony that I attended in Zurich. And we believe that that is the most appropriate way for the United States to be helpful at this time is to continue to urge the ratification of those protocols.
Secondly, on the London embassy, we are not going to be asking this committee for any money because we are self-financing it from the sale of the existing embassy and the Navy Annex in order to consolidate all of our operations in one place, in a more secure place, than the Grosvenor Square Embassy is.
And finally, on Iran, we did make a preliminary report to the Congress in early February. We will follow that up with a classified briefing. I have taken the responsibilities to examine the situation very carefully and that is exactly what we’re doing. There wasn’t any such inquiries before in the last eight years. There was only one finding in the prior administration. So we are going to fulfill the responsibility of looking at it and consulting with the Congress as to what the outcome should be. And I think that we’ll be having a briefing in a classified setting, which is the appropriate forum for that.
MR. KIRK: Thank you. And I just hope we follow up. Imagine how confused Ahmadinejad is when he gets a check from the World Bank from the Obama Administration. And so (inaudible).
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Mr. Schiff.
MR. SCHIFF: Thank you, Madam Chair. And thank you, Madam Secretary, for being here. And I guess I’ll pick off where – pick up where my colleague left off and also urge the Administration’s support for recognition of the Armenian genocide. We have a markup coming up next month and I would urge the Administration to support the legislation and, at a minimum, certainly not to get involved in opposing the legislation. And I don’t think that the prospect of reconciliation, much as I would like it to happen, should be used as a reason not to recognize the undeniable fact of the Armenian genocide.
I wanted to discuss with you today – and I just got back from a trip to Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan – the situation in particular in Afghanistan. I think we have really the best team assembled there we could possibly have, both in terms of the military leadership and the civilian leadership. And Madam Secretary, you have some of the finest people in the world working in the State Department and USAID. They are just phenomenal, courageous, committed, wonderful people.
I have a lot of confidence that the military operations will be successful within the scope of what they hope to achieve, that the Taliban can be routed from their strongholds within the next 12 to 18 months. But I have far, far, far less confidence that we can achieve our civilian objective. And not having anything to do with, again, the quality of the people over there, but it seems to me we’re dealing with two very different timelines. We have a timeline militarily and we have a timeline in terms of helping the Afghans establish the rule of law and good governance, such that when the military leaves, there is an infrastructure and governance there that is strong enough and well enough respected that the Afghan people won’t tolerate the Taliban coming back in. And that is the hold-and-build part of the plan.
And so my question is: Are these timelines so different that they’re going to come in conflict 12 to 18 months from now? It seems to me you would need an escalation or a surge of probably 30,000 State and USAID and Justice Department and Agriculture Department and Commerce Department civilians in Afghanistan to try to deal with the corruption in the Afghan police forces, the maladministration and corruption of the government. We’re not – we don’t have the capacity to do that. So what happens if the governance is still so fragile? How do you continue with that work, without having the military there in such numbers to maintain the security?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I hope you and all the members of the committee have received a copy of the Afghanistan and Pakistan Regional Stabilization Strategy which we have submitted to the Congress, because it goes into great detail about everything we are doing, from agriculture to healthcare to education to women’s rights. And obviously, we are working closely with our military counterparts as they heroically take on the Taliban alongside not only our international partners, but increasingly the Afghan military.
This is a very challenging undertaking, but there has to be a transition from the international force, the NATO ISAF force, to the Afghanistan people themselves. That’s why we are emphasizing the training of the military and of the police. We are working, I think, successfully to make clear that we need good partners and that President Karzai, his government, as well as the military, have to do their part. And there are places in Afghanistan that we could transition to civilian rule today and there are others where we still have a lot of work ahead of us.
But we have a plan. We’re going to do the best we can to implement that plan. I understand the questions that you and many others have because this is a very hard undertaking. So I don’t want to in any way underestimate how difficult it will be.
MR. SCHIFF: If I could refine it just very quickly, do you think in the 16 to 18 months of the increased military support there that in these safe havens or former safe havens like Marjah, that on the civilian side we can establish a sufficient rule of law and good governance, such that when we downsize our military presence, the Taliban won’t simply come back in, because the Afghans are so fed up with the corruption of the Afghan Government?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s our goal and that’s what we’re working to put into place. But ultimately, the future of Afghanistan is up to the Afghans. They’re going to have to stand up and demand the kind of accountability from their government and the delivery of services. We are doing all that we know to do to create the conditions for that. But at the end of this process, there has to be a government that is functioning and effective and has the support of its people. And there’s no way completely to predict that, but we’re doing the very best we know to do to try to create the conditions for it.
MR. SCHIFF: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Mr. Crenshaw.
MR. CRENSHAW: Thank you, Madam Chairman, and thank you for your testimony today. I have two questions and they’re kind of – one’s about Iraq and one’s about Haiti, kind of halfway around the world. But on balance, I think that what’s happening in Iraq is obviously positive. But as you know, in the last year, what happened at Camp Ashraf is really troubling to an awful lot of people. I mean, once the Iraqi Government kind of took over there – I guess it was back in June – the raids that occurred and just the awful, deplorable situation that took place there. And then now to say we’re going to move those 3,400 folks to some detention center certainly has got a lot of people’s attention because it’s not just about Iraq. It’s about Iran.
And I think as you may know, I think 172 members of the House have signed on as co-sponsors of a resolution basically deploring that activity by the Iranian forces, kind of calling on Iraq to live up to its commitment to provide security, and also then providing for the United States to take necessary action to kind of provide for their security. So I wanted you to maybe give us an update on the current status of that situation.
And then quickly about just Haiti, it seems to me that out of that terrible, terrible situation, there’s an opportunity for really a lot of good things to happen in Haiti today. And I just – with all this tremendous outpouring of international assistance, both private and public, is there any one entity that’s kind of emerging as an entity to kind of coordinate all of this foreign assistance in both private and government? And as part of that, are there procedures being put in place to make sure that everything is being accounted for and being transparent?
And finally, the third part of that is just, what’s your view of the government there in Haiti and their ability to kind of rise up and be a partner with all this international assistance? If you could comment on those two, I’d appreciate it.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Congressman. We’re aware of the recent reports about difficulties in Camp Ashraf, and we have looked into these assertions. It is our conclusion that adequate food, fuel, and medical supplies are reaching the MEK members in the camp. Family visitation is not being blocked by Iraqi security forces. Foreign governments are able to conduct visits to the camp for any resident claiming third country status. Yes, the Iraqi Government still has the stated goal of removing the MEK from Ashraf to another location, but there is no date for doing so.
And our policy toward the MEK can be summarized briefly as follows. They are not refugees. They’re not protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention. They are not providing valuable information on Iran to our government; however, we do support their human rights. We have repeatedly told the Iraqi Government that we expect their human rights to be protected. We have, in prior administrations, designated the MEK as a foreign terrorist organization. We do support Iraqi sovereignty over Ashraf, and we do hold the Iraqi Government responsible for how the members of the MEK are treated. And we expect the Iraqi Government to honor its written assurances that it will treat the MEK members humanely; it will not forcibly relocate them to any country where they could be persecuted for religious or political beliefs or where they could be tortured. And we support international participation in trying to resolve this matter. So there’s a lot of information coming from all directions. We’ve tried to be very careful in evaluating what the facts are. And to the best of our ability, that is a brief summary.
With respect to Haiti, there is going to be a coordinating entity created. It will be a combination of the Haitian Government and the United Nations, along with a committee on which the United States will also participate. There will be measures of accountability that we are putting into place. There will be a conference on March 31st at the United Nations, cosponsored by the United States and other major donor countries, to lay out the way forward. The Haitian Government’s ability was severely impacted by the earthquake. They are trying to kind of get themselves organized and focused, but it is a very difficult challenge for them and we’re doing everything we can to help them. They are very grateful for the aid, both the military and civilian aid, and presence on the ground from the United States. So we have a big task ahead of us to try to help them take more responsibility, but to do so in an accountable way with sufficient oversight for the foreign assistance funds that are going to flow in.
MR. CRENSHAW: Thank you. Thank you, Madam Chair.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Mr. Israel.
MR. ISRAEL: Thank you, Madam Chair. Madam Secretary, we really miss you in New York.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, Steve. (Laughter.)
MR. ISRAEL: We really, really miss you in New York. Madam Secretary, two questions. One, last year this subcommittee provided the USAID with $10 million to stand up a solar villages initiative which would help catalyze micro-financing for renewable solar projects in the developing world. I’d just like your brief status report on that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we support the solar villages and we welcome your interest and your initiative on the solar villages. In fact, I thought you might ask about it and I brought a quick update for you, Congressman, because it is the kind of an innovative approach that we support. The $10 million which went to USAID clean energy funds are being used for micro-finance, renewable energy programs. And we want to work with you to determine the final country allocations because of your interest. And so I’ve directed that USAID reach out to you and let you know exactly what we’re doing with that money.
MR. ISRAEL: Thank you. I appreciate that. Let me turn to Turkey if I may, Madam Secretary. I am very concerned with the direction of Turkey. It seems to me, at least, that Turkey is contemplating a fundamental realignment. With respect to Iran, Turkey has exhibited irresponsible behavior in my view, undermining international efforts to slow Iran’s march to nuclear weapons, defending Iran’s position – Prime Minister Erdogan back in October asked why those who are talking about nuclear weapons always pick on Iran – increasing volume of Turkish investment and trade with Iran.
On Israel, October 2009, Turkey canceled air force joint exercises with Israel, publicly attacked President Shimon Peres. On Cyprus, Turkey renews its insistence on elements of a Cyprus solution that no Western democracy could ever agree to, continues an illegal occupation, digs in. On Darfur, denied the Darfur genocide; Prime Minister Erdogan said it is not possible for those who belong to the Muslim faith to carry out genocide. Tell that to people of the Muslim faith who have been annihilated by that genocide. We’ve talked about Armenia. And finally, on the Ecumenical Patriarch, Turkey’s history of religious intolerance continues confiscating the property of the Ecumenical Patriarch, defying the values of 300 million Orthodox Christians.
It just seems to me that this is a fundamental reversal of Turkey’s role in the world and in the region. And I’m curious as to whether the State Department is engaging in a reassessment of our own relationship with Turkey in view of what seems to be Turkey’s reassessment of its relationship with us and the rest of the world.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, let me put our relationship with Turkey in as broad a context as possible, because we believe we share a vital partnership, common strategic interests, and of course, membership in NATO. From the Balkans to Afghanistan, we are working together. Turkey has embarked on a very ambitious foreign policy, working to try to reach normalization with Armenia, trying to solve problems in its neighborhood. In the NATO context, Turkey’s a key contributor to our ISAF efforts in Afghanistan. Turkey contributes nearly 1,800 troops. It commands a regional command. It maintains a PRT. It’s going to have another PRT. It also contributes 500 troops to Kosovo’s NATO forces. It’s part of Operation Active Endeavor patrolling the Mediterranean. It’s been a key contributor to Operation Ocean Shield, which is NATO’s counter-piracy mission, and helps patrol the Black Sea through Operation Black Sea Harmony.
Now with respect specifically to Iran, Turkey shares a long border with Iran. It has a lot of cultural and religious ties, a lot of commercial ventures with Iran, and it has access to many of the Iranian decision makers. So Turkey has been very involved in trying to influence Iranian actions. It has expressly opposed Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability and its aggressive regional policy. And we have worked very hard to move the Government of Turkey to a point where it will assist us in pressing Iran to respond to our demands.
With respect to Israel, Prime Minister Erdogan, based on humanitarian grounds, criticized Israel’s closure of Gaza. Then a cabinet minister, Ben-Eliezer, visited in late November to meet with the Turkish Government. And I think since that meeting, the government’s criticism has been noticeably muted. But then there was a slight by the Israeli deputy foreign minister of the Turkish ambassador during a mid-January meeting, which again created and reignited tensions. Those were dampened when Defense Minister Barak went to Ankara. Both countries have confirmed their commitment to a strong bilateral relationship between Turkey and Israel. And as you know, Congressman, Turkey was very involved in supporting Israel until Gaza, and then the events back and forth since then. But I think both countries are trying to get back on track with their relationship.
We also share the concern about a resolution in Cyprus, and we have urged and worked with Turkey to support a settlement of Cyprus. Actually, the very intense negotiations that the Greek and Turkish Cypriots have engaged in have been publicly supported by Turkey. There’s a lot that we have to do.
And let me just conclude with the references to the Ecumenical Patriarch and to Orthodox Christianity, particularly the Halki Seminary. We continue to urge the Turkish Government to reopen the seminary. The President’s called for it, I’ve called for it, both of us in Turkey, as well in the United States, have done the same, and to protect and safeguard the Patriarch’s property rights. And there still is a very vigorous discussion going on about this. And when the Patriarch visited and I hosted him at the State Department, we discussed that at length. So there’s a constant ongoing consultation. But I think that the context of the relationship and actions is even more concrete and perhaps complex than either of us has recognized.
MR. ISRAEL: Thank you.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Ms. McCollum.
MS. MCCOLLUM: Madam Chair, I’d like to yield at this time. I’m checking facts on something because I think facts are very important to this committee, and I hope to have something to share shortly.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Ms. Lee.
MS. LEE: Thank you very much, Madam Chair. Good afternoon, Madam Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon.
MS. LEE: Let me just say, like all of us, I’ve been greatly encouraged by the Obama Administration’s support for rebuilding the capacity of the State Department and its commitment to utilizing diplomatic engagement as a means of reducing the risk of conflict and ensuring that the United States takes a leadership role in solving some of the most serious problems and sources of tension around the world. And your leadership, I just have to say, has been so instrumental in reshaping America’s image and role in the world, and for that, I’m really deeply grateful.
I recently returned from traveling as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation to the Gulf region, led by our esteemed Chair, Congresswoman – Chairwoman Nita Lowey. And it was quite an amazing visit. You were there during that period. We learned a lot. It was an eye-opener, and I just have to thank, again, Chairwoman Lowey. It was bipartisan and it was very, very enlightening.
During this visit, Iran’s nuclear program and the destabilizing force of a potential nuclear weapons capacity in that region was discussed, and it was really a source of an intense discussion. The weekend of our return, though, on February – I think it was February 19th – the Wall Street Journal editorial on Iran concluded, and this is just a quote from that editorial – “Finally the option of a military strike will have to be put squarely on the table.” Of course, I’m a strong opponent of the use of military force, but this suggestion deeply troubles me. The possibility of sanctions, I don’t believe should ever be viewed as a checkmark on the path to war, which is what actually the Wall Street Journal editorialized.
Admiral Mullen recently expressed concern that a military strike in Iran would not be decisive, that diplomatic levers would be preferable, and that such a course of action would carry unintended consequences. So I – am I correct in characterizing the fact that the Administration’s position that a military strike in Iran is neither appropriate nor preferable to other means of resolving this challenge? I mean, I was very troubled by what the Wall Street Journal wrote.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, the Administration has consistently said that all options may be on the table, but we are trying to set the table with sanctions, with pressure to change the behavior of the Iranian regime. That is our focus. That is what we’re planning. That is what we’re doing. And I think, for all the reasons that Admiral Mullen referred to, that is our preference, that we proceed as vigorously and as intensely as we can to create the conditions for the Iranians’ change of behavior.
MS. LEE: Great. With regard – thank you very much for that. With regard to Haiti, first let me thank you, your team, the leadership of your Chief of Staff, Cheryl Mills, for the response, the coordinated response as it related to the tragedy in Haiti. They were, quite frankly, phenomenal and we were able to do quite a bit, as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, to work with your team to help expedite the badly needed resources.
What – I wanted to ask you, and I know that we’ve been in conversations about this and we forwarded you a letter about the Haitian American community – Haitians in the diaspora – finding an organized and structured vehicle for Haitian Americans to return to Haiti to provide technical capacity-building assistance in fields critical to reconstruction and development. And so I have a bill which I’ve shared with your staff – H.R. 417. It’s called the Next Steps for Haiti Act. And that would create such a mechanism for establishing a USAID-housed effort that would do just this. And I’d like to ask you for your consideration for that because I think organizing in a way that’s financed the Haitian American community to return to Haiti to do this would be very helpful.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we will certainly take a close look at your bill. We share your goal of enlisting the expertise and experience of the Haitian American community, and we’re looking for ways to do that.
MS. LEE: Thank you. And just one more point I’d just like to raise, and I want to thank you for your help in the three hikers that are in Iran. We discussed this when we were in the region somewhat. One – well, there were students in my district, the University of California, and one is one of my constituents. And I’m wondering if there’s anything that you know that you could talk about that would give us a little bit of hope. I heard that the families may be allowed to visit them. That was the last I heard. But is there any movement at all from your vantage point?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we push every day because we think it’s so baseless and unfounded to hold these three young people. And we have called on the Iranian regime to release them on humanitarian grounds and certainly to permit as much access while they are detained to family and loved ones, but I have nothing to report.
MS. LEE: Okay. Thank you very much. Thank you, Madam Chair.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Mr. (inaudible) – I’m sorry, Mr. Rothman.
MR. ROTHMAN: Thank you, Madam Chairman. And Madam Secretary, it’s always a great pleasure to see you. And let me say from – of what we’ve seen so far, it is my opinion that you – that there has never been a more effective or smarter Secretary of State in the history of the United States than you, Madam Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
MR. ROTHMAN: We are enormously proud of you and grateful for your service. You’re indefatigable and you are extraordinarily effective for our country. Thank you.
It’s no secret that Pakistan possesses nuclear weapons. It is, I think, equally not a secret that if those Pakistani nuclear weapons were to fall into the hands of radical Islamic terrorists, that – just before that happened, India probably would not – would take steps to prevent that, which makes that region very volatile and makes relations between India and Pakistan so critical. So I’m interested in your view as to how their relations are these days, and does Pakistan understand, the military and the government, how unacceptable it would be and how catastrophic, in terms of inviting a conflagration in the region, which would affect the world economy, et cetera, and millions of lives, if they were to not do what was necessary to prevent terrorists from overthrowing the Government of Pakistan and acquiring Pakistani nuclear weapons?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, that’s an extremely important issue and it’s one that we take as a very high priority in our efforts with both countries. We’re heartened by the fact that they are resuming a dialogue. They made progress in the last dialogue between then-President Musharraf and Prime Minister Singh. It was suspended when Musharraf left office. It is now only being resumed. I think both countries realize that there are lots of important issues that only they can resolve between them. But the United States has encouraged the dialogue and we obviously hope that it will be productive.
With respect to Pakistan’s actions, we’ve been encouraged by the results of military and intelligence operations over the last several weeks that resulted in the capture and detention of some of the key members of the so-called Quetta Shura, very high-ranking Taliban leaders, right up there with Mullah Omar. We have also been encouraged by the Pakistani military’s successful efforts to route the Taliban from their own country, from Swat to North Waziristan. And we are working very closely with the government, both the democratically elected government and the military and ISI.
But we believe that the people and Government of Pakistan have, over the course of this past year, since I was last here, understood the direct threat to their state’s survival posed by the extremists inside Pakistan, that’s it’s not a problem for someone else, that they are operating out of Pakistan, that given the brutality and the horrific attacks launched against mosques, markets, universities, volleyball games, police stations, ISI headquarters, this has been now seen for what it is – a direct assault on the sovereignty and capacity of the Pakistan Government. So I’m actually quite pleased to see the very vigorous response coming forth.
MR. ROTHMAN: And that is – I hate to use the word, this expression, “trickle down,” because I normally don’t accept that view – but the general population of Pakistan gets that, Madam Secretary?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s our impression that if that were not the case, the government and the military would not be proceeding and --
MR. ROTHMAN: May I just go on to one --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
MR. ROTHMAN: -- fast other question, but it is a powerful one. I think we, the United States – the President’s request in the Middle East includes $400 million in economic assistance to strengthen the Palestinian Authority as a credible partner in the Middle East peace and continue to respond to humanitarian needs in Gaza – $400 million. The Palestinian Authority recently celebrated a birthday – the birthday of the Palestinian Authority by naming a square in Ramallah in honor of a terrorist who killed 37 Israelis when that terrorist hijacked a bus in 1978. The Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad also honored a terrorist who just killed an Israeli by stabbing him through the window of his car, and went to pay a condolence call to his family – the murderer’s family, the murderer’s family.
And finally, in a sermon aired on Palestinian Authority Television on January 29th of 2010, an unnamed imam made hateful remarks equating Jews with Nazis and saying that Jews are the enemies of the Palestinians and that the Jews must be killed. This is on Palestinian Authority Television as recently as January 29, 2010. Can you – are you satisfied that the Palestinian Authority is (a) going to be a partner for peace with our number one ally in the region, the state of Israel, at this stage, given what has just recently occurred, and/or that the that Palestinian Authority is taking the steps to end the incitement and the hatred and incitement to murder that is just going on right with their consent under their authority?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the United States continues to reinforce to the Palestinian Authority leadership that all acts of incitement should be avoided and condemned, no matter when and where they happen. We consider incitement still to be a problem. But we believe that the situation is much better than it was in the past.
And in light of that, this past Friday, in response to the televised sermon that you were referencing, the Palestinian Authority immediately told the United States Government that the speech was inconsistent with Palestinian leadership’s support for a two-state solution, that it did not represent the policies of the Palestinian Authority. And then this past Friday, a sermon promoting religious tolerance was delivered in all 1,800 West Bank mosques by the direction of the Palestinian Authority. So we see much greater sensitivity. We see fewer incidents of incitement. We still take every single one of them seriously.
MR. ROTHMAN: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Are you ready, Ms. McCollum?
MS. MCCOLLUM: I’m ready, and I thank the Chairwoman’s patience, and I know my colleagues were happy to go before me.
Madam Secretary, I want to, for the record, get something straight. I wanted to learn more about how the World Bank functioned, and so I became very involved in learning more about the World Bank. It’s not a perfect organization. I have disagreements with it at a time. But Mr. Kirk’s statements here about the World Bank were misleading, and in my opinion, were outright false.
The World Bank has most of its projects closed with the country of Iran. There are two remained open that they’re completing. These deal with the poorest of the poor in Iran. They deal with water, potable water for children and families to drink and for sanitation; that’s it. There aren’t any other in the pipeline.
And I’m going to read from the World Bank’s website right now, quote, “Does the World Bank Group follow UN sanctions on Iran,” and it goes on to say yes. An independent United Nations specialization agency, a multilateral development bank, the World Bank Group fully complies with UN sanctions with Iran, and it reviews payments and contracts under the World Bank finance projects to ensure that no loan, no funds are used to finance goods prohibited by the UN sanctions or for payments designated to entities or individuals.
And I have been present, as many of us, when President Zoellick has been here and those questions have been put to him before, and he has repeatedly stated World Bank policy. And I just felt that I had an obligation, having been present at those conversations, to set the record straight. So I thank the Chairwoman for her indulgence and letting me get the facts.
Madam Secretary, I would like to begin now on a lighter note, by applauding the work that you have done to reestablish the United States as a global leader in human rights. I am so excited that you’re speaking out against child marriage in Yemen, that you’re pressing internet freedom in China, and you’re taking an aggressive stance against the atrocious, just terrible legislation in Uganda to punish its gay and lesbian citizens. You are making the light shine brighter on the Statue of Liberty. Thank you so much.
And I also want to applaud your work with Special Envoy Mitchell. Your engagement in the Middle East and President Obama’s leadership on this is good. And I’m very pleased to see that we now have an ambassador back in Syria and that we engage in Syria as a partner to bring Syria into the peace process.
But I’d like to take the little bit of time I have remaining to talk about global food security. The fact that 1 billion people around the world are struggling with chronic hunger is a moral issue, it’s an obstacle to development, it’s a strategic concern, and you’ve shown great leadership in this. Just this past September, I was in Guatemala where 50 percent of the children are physically and mentally stunted because of under-nutrition. It’s no doubt that food security is a foundation of all the other developmental interests that we make. If students are hungry, they can’t learn in school. If parents do not have proper nutrition, HIV medications don’t work. So I support the commitment that the President and you have made to develop a comprehensive food global security strategy.
Last year, I advocated on this subcommittee for reasons needed to support a new food security initiative. Before we make decisions about a second year of funding, this committee needs to see a detailed plan, however, on how and where the fiscal 2010 funds are being invested. So my first question is: When can we expect to receive this information?
And then, as you know, I’m working with Senator Lugar on the Global Food Security Act legislation that will authorize this major new foreign policy initiative. Could you please talk to all of us about your plans for engaging with this committee and with Congress to create the support we need to make this new Global Food Security initiative successful?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Congresswoman, thank you very, very much, and thank you for actually believing in facts and sharing those facts with all the rest of us.
On the Global Food Initiative, we are looking forward to briefing not only this committee, but others in the Congress, the Hunger Caucus and the like, who care deeply about this important initiative. We will try to get that set up as soon as possible now that the budget is up, so that we can demonstrate to you what we’re spending money on and what the way forward will be. But we very much appreciate your personal commitment, your work with Senator Lugar on this issue, because we consider it one of the most important initiatives of the Obama Administration.
With respect to Secretary Lugar’s legislation, it very much tracks with the plans that we have. We think that focusing on small-holding agriculture plots, focusing on women who are on average 70 percent of the farmers who are actually farming those small plots, working on technological improvements like better seeds, better irrigation systems will put together the comprehensive approach to give us the chance for a second Green Revolution. That is our goal.
The United States was the driver of the first Green Revolution. Norm Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize for his unbelievably effective work in leading that effort, so we want to have the same kind of impact. And I look forward to having you briefed and working with you as we go forward on this together.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: (Off-mike.)
MR. CHANDLER: Thank you, Madam Chairman. And Secretary Clinton, I’m going to get in line behind my colleagues and thank you for taking on what I believe is maybe the most difficult job that our country has to offer and for handling it with great aplomb.
I’m going to try to ask you a question that you may find simple to answer and you may find it very difficult. It’s very broad, so you can handle it any way you want to.
I think most of the American people believe that our main enemy in the world today is Islamic fundamentalism. We see it crop up in many different places. The Muslim world stretches, of course, in one form or another, from essentially from the Philippines all the way to Morocco, and it covers a very large swath of the human population on the planet. It seems like we see one fire after another breaking out in different parts of that world. Of course, we’ve got the dramatic fire in Afghanistan and Pakistan, we deal with fires in Iraq, we deal with fires in the West Bank and Gaza and Israel, Yemen, Somalia, all sorts of places. And it seems to me that at any given time fires can break out anywhere and we have to deal with them. And that may be just be the way it is and it may be the best way to approach the problem.
But I was wondering if you could give me a little bit of – as concise an idea as you can about a broader strategy that our country is involved in to try to combat this problem overall. It’s a very – again, maybe a necessary way to combat it, to fight it country by country, but it’s a broad problem that is very expensive when you do that way. And I’m wondering if the Administration has a larger, more cogent plan to deal with this.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I think that the President’s vision of outreach to the Muslim world is really at the core of his strategic approach. There are more than a billion Muslims, and the vast, vast, vast majority of them live peacefully, care about everything we care about, from getting their kids off to a good start in life to finding a good job to taking care of their parents. I mean, it’s a small but lethal group of extremists who pervert Islam for the purpose of seizing power, settling grievances, imposing very strict rules on women. And they do not reflect the vast majority of their fellow religious believers.
And so when the President spoke in Cairo, it was to send a very clear message: We’re not at war or we’re not against Islam. We’re not even against Islamic fundamentalism. I mean, people of different religious – religions have different levels of belief. We are against terrorists and the use of terrorism to kill innocent people, to intimidate and turn the clock back on the rights and opportunities that all people, particularly women, should be entitled to.
So there are many aspects of our strategy following up on the President’s vision. How we work in Indonesia is not how we work in Yemen. How we work in Pakistan may not be what we do in Senegal. And I think it is rooted in your question that we look at the full range of opportunities we have to strengthen, deepen, and broaden our relationships with Muslim majority countries, and that is exactly what the President has in mind when he speaks about the American relationship with the Muslim world.
And next month, he’ll be going to Indonesia, a country that he knows well and the country that has the largest Muslim population in the world. And I think that our goal is to demonstrate clearly that we are only focused on those extremists and terrorists who choose to pervert religion, who choose to pursue political gain and power in the cloak of religion, and that we will seek them out, we will find common cause with other countries to prevent them from gaining ground and finding safe haven to assault innocent people anywhere.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Well, we have you for about 10 more minutes, Madam Secretary. And you have extraordinary endurance and you can see the admiration for you on both sides of the aisle. And for those of us who’ve traveled with you, we see the guts in speaking out against corruption. And on the other hand, the average person looks at you as a rock star. (Laughter.) So we are, again, I want to say, very fortunate to have you representing our country.
We’re going to have to – maybe we can take a quick second round. Several of us have talked about the difficulty in passing this budget. Even though we know on this committee how difficult it is to send the message, we all agree that it’s very important to national security. So I would hope that you and the President would use your skills, which you have been very successful at in the 47 countries you’ve visited, to convince the American public that this is an issue of national security.
A couple of short, quick questions and one is directly related to the issue of our economy. Iraq has the largest oil resources in the world, yet it doesn’t have the ability to maximize this resource to generate wealth by increasing production and export levels are severely handicapped by factors within and outside the government’s control. And there are things Iraqis can do now to improve oil production, including fighting corruption, passing hydrocarbon legislation to address legal uncertainties, increasing cooperation between the Kurds and central government.
Now, I understand there is a successful second round of bidding for oil service contracts in December showing some progress, yet serious challenges in the oil sector remain. So what are the realistic prospects for the expansion of Iraq’s oil production over the next five years? What are the major challenges Iraqis need to overcome in order to meet the oil production expansion goals? The United States has provided $53 billion since 2003 for the reconstruction of Iraq. The President is requesting $1.2 billion for police training, institution building, economic reforms, and essential services. So I’d like to say, in light of their wealth, it’s time they started paying for these services themselves.
Can you respond?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, thank you. You’re right, Iraq conducted two successful oil bid rounds in 2009, but the significant increases in oil output and revenue are still several years in the future. It’s going to take probably a decade for some of the less developed fields to come online. Others will be coming online within, we hope, three to five years with greater production. And the Government of Iraq has to significantly improve its infrastructure to handle the increased output.
Now, the Iraqis are increasingly using their own resources to fund themselves. And their funding now does exceed the United States in terms of their commitment to their own development and reconstruction. And in 2009, just this past year, the State Department adopted guidelines for the Iraqi Government matching of assistance funds, which requires the Iraqis to match at least 50 percent, and the Iraqis have already matched or exceeded State foreign assistance funds. And we have an ambassador in Baghdad who is devoted to making sure that the Iraqi Government enforces the matching requirements. And we conduct a yearly review of all activities to ensure Government of Iraqi cost sharing.
And on the security side, Iraqi spending has already exceeded the Department of Defense’s funds since 2006. Iraq spent $9.6 billion on its own security last year. It’s budgeted to spend 11 billion in 2010, far exceeding our spending. So we’re on the right trajectory. We just have to keep everybody pointed where they need to go.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Thank you. And I know that we’ll be wanting to follow this issue, and we appreciate the numbers and we look forward to continuing the conversation.
MS. GRANGER: Thank you. Before I ask just a brief question, I want to say that as the co-chair of the Turkey caucus, I certainly share the Secretary’s statements about the importance of U.S.-Turkey relations and Turkey’s importance to the region and certainly to our efforts in Afghanistan.
I have one question having to do with Pakistan. This subcommittee has provided significant funding – 1.2 billion – for nonmilitary aid to Pakistan FY10. That’s roughly triple what was provided in FY08. And there is now a new request for 344 million in FY10 supplemental. I understand there’s significant money still in the pipeline, unspent funds from prior years. I’d like to know how much of that is unspent. And if it is unobligated and unspent, then why is there an emergency appropriation needed?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Congresswoman, I will have to take that for the record. We’ll get back to you immediately, because I don’t know the exact amount that might be unspent. I don’t think there’s much of any that’s unobligated, but let me get to you specifically what is unspent.
MS. GRANGER: Thank you Madam Chair.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Thank you.
MR. SCHIFF: Thank you, Madam Chair. Madam Secretary, I wanted to applaud you and Ambassador Holbrooke for the new approach to foreign aid that you’ve initiated to try to bypass some of the beltway bandits and get foreign aid out of the beltway and use indigenous non-profits to help do the work in – particularly in Pakistan. And I hope it’s a policy that will be replicated around the world in terms of our foreign aid program. So I’m a full supporter.
I did think there were some substantive questions that were asked and had a chance to meet with some of your staff about it and have a discussion about the pace of moving in this direction. And I think it was Dr. (inaudible) wrote a dissent through the State Department channels about some of the concerns he had expressed that there wasn’t the capacity, for example, in Pakistan and maybe Afghanistan, to undertake this effort so quickly. I’m all for doing this as fast as it can possibly done, and I think it’s a great move. But I want to get your sense in how you think it’s going, whether – I don’t know if those concerns have percolated to you, but whether you think there are any legitimacy to them and whether any retooling needs to happen.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I certainly think that it is quite challenging to identify that, fund, hold accountable, subject to oversight, new recipients of aid. That includes the Afghanistan Government, where we have a process where we’re certifying ministries. If we believe that they can be held accountable for money we give them, we do so – but there are very few that yet have met that standard for us – to the NGOs that are on the ground actually performing the functions, which is one of the reasons why we’re trying to get more aid in a direct line so it’s USAID personnel on the ground, State Department personnel on the ground. But it is challenging, and similarly in Pakistan.
There were a number of decisions that had been made in the past to fund very worthy organizations to provide services, education, rule of law, training – those kinds of important programs. But the circumstances under which they operated were practically impossible. So even the best intentioned, best trained, most honest grant recipient couldn’t get into the FATA, couldn’t deliver the services.
So there are security problems, there are corruption problems, capacity problems. But we did make the decision to look at every single grant and just hold them to the highest possible standard. We will continue to do that. But we’ve undertaken a very big task to try to supervise where the money goes and then try to find what the results are so that we can tell you that we’re actually making progress. But I don’t know any other way to proceed.
And again, I would hope that you and others would look at this regionalization, stabilization – this regional stabilization strategy so that you can see what we’re trying to do and also see the results, because there are a lot of positive things that we’ve gotten done – the National Solidarity Program, which I know this committee supports.
But for example, one of the first questions that I got when I came to the Congress last year is why don’t we do anything about Afghanistan agriculture. And I said, “We’re going to. That is one of our highest priorities.” Well, now we’ve got 89 agricultural experts on the ground, 64 from USDA, 25 from USAID. We’ve got a Rapid Response Team where USAID is issuing vouchers to farmers in 18 provinces, in particular Helmand and Kandahar, for them to get better seeds and better fertilizer and the like. I mean, we are really moving on the ground. But sometimes the complexity of what we’re trying to do kind of interferes with us delivering both sides of the story – what we’re doing and how successful it is, yet how far we have to go. But that’s the full range of what we’re trying to get our arms around.
MR. SCHIFF: Thank you.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Madam Secretary, you have been very generous with your time. We have one, two, three, four, five, six members – pardon me – five members who are signaling they would like to ask you a question. If they can control themselves and ask the question in one minute, would that be good for you?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. I can probably – one minute question, one minute answer. We’ll try to do that.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Okay. Mr. Rehberg.
MR. REHBERG: Thank you, Madam Chair. And I assume we can ask unanimous consent to keep the record open for a period of time so we could share additional questions with the Secretary. I have more on UNICEF and orphans and Haiti and such.
My question is quick. Having been a former Executive Branch person who – I separated a program very popular to our Administration, which at that time was the Consensus Council. After our administration left, it got moved back into an agency and it ultimately disappeared. I look at some of the some press on the MCC, or the Millennium Challenge, and I see that there’s some movement on the part of the Administration to consider moving that independent agency back into another agency rather than it remaining independent.
Can you give us some assurances, because your request is the lowest that we’ve ever seen from the Millennium Challenge? It’s not as low as we’ve appropriated, but it’s the lowest request we’ve seen. Could you give us some assurances that that is not going to be rolled into another agency and then ultimately --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Congressman, we have no such plans, and I believe we have a significant increase for MCC this year. Is that – am I looking around here?
MR. REHBERG: Not if it’s for --
SECRETARY CLINTON: And we have a 15 percent increase in our budget request.
MR. REHBERG: Mine shows 1.28. Is that not correct?
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: (Off-mike.)
MR. REHBERG: Well, the existing budget was 1. – well, I don’t have it in front of me right this minute. Our appropriations was 1.1, but that wasn’t the request from the Administration the last time. Okay. Well, I don’t want to –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we will get you the -- but rest assured I support MCC, I chair the board, I have frequently spoken about the merits of MCC, and –
MR. REHBERG: So the press reports are just speculation, that it’s going to be moved into a different agency?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can’t imagine that there would be anything wrong in any press reports. So I don’t know how to respond.
MR. REHBERG: Yes. I just wanted some assurances that that press report was wrong.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, sir.
MR. REHBERG: Thank you.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Just for the record, we were at 1.1 last year. I think you’ve asked for 1.27. And it’s my recollection that the Administration asked for a very generous amount, the Senate cut it back tremendously. And, in negotiations, we managed to bring it up a little bit. But I know there’ll be a great deal of discussion on that issue, and focusing on –
MR. REHBERG: That was my point. They asked for more before, and the Senate -- or whatever. I was just wondering why the reduction on their ask.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Maybe they were just being more realistic. But you can certainly request that of the Secretary. Ms. Lee?
MS. LEE: Thank you very much, Madam Chair. Very quickly, let me just thank you, first of all, once again, for bringing on Dr. Eric Goosby to run our global programs through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief. Of course, he is a constituent, but he is a phenomenal person. And thank you so much for that.
Let me just ask you about PEPFAR, the Global Fund, and how do these initiatives fit within the new Global Health Initiative? I’m concerned that PEPFAR – it’s my understanding that we have $48 billion, that’s what our commitment was for 5 years, and now it seems like it’s $51 billion over six years. And so, I want to make sure, because the need is still very great, that we don’t back off of our commitment to PEPFAR, as well as the Global Fund, which – President Clinton actually signed the Global AIDS and Tuberculosis Relief Act in 2000, which set the framework for the Global Fund.
SECRETARY CLINTON: We are committed to PEPFAR. And what Dr. Goosby is doing, which I fully support, is trying to figure out how we can help countries, whom we are supporting with treatment funds, begin to build sustainable health systems. Because one of the things that we are aware of is that, oftentimes countries don’t follow through on their own budget commitments to health systems, because we and other donors are in there providing the money.
So, we want to do everything possible to continue to treat and increase the number of people on treatment. But we want to build something more institutional. Otherwise, you know, it’s not sustainable. So that’s what we’re working on.
MR. KIRK: Thank you. Since we were talking about World Bank – and I think I’m the only member of Congress that actually has worked for the World Bank – let me be blisteringly specific and legal. No World Bank projects have been recently approved for Iran. But several World Bank projects have been approved, and money has not been provided. According to the World Bank’s own website as of 10 minutes ago, 2 major projects, the Northern Cities Water Project and the Alborz land management project, have $258 million in undisbursed, non-spent World Bank – and I’ll be legal – International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, IBRD, funds that are pending.
Now, as you know the World Bank as well as I do, the IBRD does not support projects. Checks from the IBRD, under its charter at the Bretton Woods Conference, is paid directly to the finance ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a government which you have said has stolen an election and is subject to a creeping military coup.
So, the question that I would have is, will the Administration seek to block the disbursement of $258 million in World Bank funds from 1818 H Street, Washington, D.C. to support the Northern Cities Water Project and the Alborz land management project, which would be paid directly to the finance ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, we will certainly take this up with the World Bank. As you point out, the funds have not been disbursed. I don’t, sitting here today, know the reasons why they have not yet been disbursed. But we will look into it immediately.
MR. KIRK: Let me just briefly interrupt you. There has been just a – these funds have been disbursed on a regular basis. And so we have seen hundreds of millions of dollars transferred from the World Bank to the Islamic Republic of Iran finance ministry. You have another $258 million to go. So, now that over 400 House members and Senate members have voted to cut off gasoline for Iran, certainly we could stop the disbursement of assistance.
You and I were not born yesterday. We would know that money paid to the Islamic Republic of Iran finance ministry is extremely fungible. I would suggest the analogy is we would certainly have cut off money going from an international institution to the Nazi treasury, even if the Nazis claimed that it was going to support some project.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Congressman, we will raise this with the World Bank, and we will get back to you.
MR. KIRK: Thank you.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: (Off-mike.)
MR. ROTHMAN: In one minute, Madam Secretary, will you tell the American people why, if they would like a safer world, and don’t want to invest – rightfully so – are reluctant to invest American men and women’s blood in defending what needs to be defended overseas to protect our beloved United States of America, it’s important to have diplomats, and the resources for those diplomats?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, your question reminds me of that famous saying by Winston Churchill, “Jaw-jaw is always better than war-war.” You know, talk and talk and talk and talk and sometimes it tries the patience, and it makes people crazy with frustration. But talking and diplomatic activity and engagement is far preferable to having to engage in war.
MR. ROTHMAN: At one percent of the budget.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, that’s right.
MR. ROTHMAN: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
CHAIRWOMAN LOWEY: Madam Secretary, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us. Thank you for your eloquence. Thank you for representing us throughout the world. We personally appreciate it, and we look forward to working with you. Thank you very much.
The meeting is adjourned.
(Whereupon, the committee was adjourned.)