FY2015 Department of State Budget

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Opening Remarks Before the House Foreign Affairs Committee
Washington, DC
March 13, 2014

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that. Thank you very much for the privilege of being here with you. Ranking Member Engel, and to all the members of the committee, it’s a privilege for me to be able to be here with you today. And I hope to please you greatly at the outset by giving you one of the shortest renditions ever. I just want to start by saying thank you to you, all of you, for your leadership, which is critical. We have a tough budget. Nobody needs to be told that, but it has serious implications.

I just want to say to you that it’s a privilege for me to lead the 70,000-plus employees of USAID and the State Department all around the world, and we’re including in that local employees, who are critical to our ability to be able to function in the 285 posts around the world. These men and women serve not in uniform, but at great risk. And they serve our interests, our values, and do an enormous job in an increasingly complicated world.

What I would just say to all of you very quickly is, look, we spend one penny of the U.S. taxpayer dollar on everything that we do abroad in terms of our diplomacy in the State Department and USAID. That’s all our development, all of our money, all the things we do for disease, antipoverty, one penny on the dollar. I don’t have to tell you, but I’ll just say very quickly, I am amazed by the return on that investment. And increasingly, as I’ve traveled around the world in the course of the last year, I have seen the degree to which people rely on the United States of America to be able to lead in instance after instance. I say that without any arrogance, without any chauvinism about country. I say it as a matter of fact. Whether it’s in Africa, Asia, South Central Asia, the Middle East, throughout the world we play a critical role. And this committee, needless to say, is critical in what it’s willing to authorize with respect to our ability to lead.

The final comment I’d make to you is that what we do really does make a difference. And increasingly in the State Department, I have focused and am focusing the efforts of our diplomacy on economics. We need to understand that in this increasingly growing marketplace, where more and more countries are chasing resources, and opportunities are harder won, it’s critical for us to be able to open up opportunities. And I could show you instance after instance where our embassies or our consulates have engaged directly with American companies, helped them win contracts abroad in the multi-millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars. And that means jobs here at home. It also means more security for the United States ultimately because of the relationships we build.

I appreciate, Mr. Chairman, your adjusting the schedule a little bit here. The President, as you know, has asked me to leave in a few hours to go to London and meet with Foreign Minister Lavrov regarding Ukraine, and he’s asked to see me before I go. So I appreciate your moving the schedule up slightly. I know you have some vote challenges here, so I will end on that. We’ll submit the full testimony for the record, and I look forward to your questions.