Last Tuesday, March 28, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing called “The Budget, Diplomacy, and Development. There, Representative Ed Royce (R-CA)—the chairman of the committee—gave an opening statement that expressed concern about “how cuts would impact other priorities – including efforts to combat terrorists, poachers, and human traffickers.”
He continued: “U.S. leadership was key to stopping Ebola in West Africa, and continued engagement is needed to address future threats before they hit our shores. And many are rightly worried about how proposed cuts will impact humanitarian assistance at a time when more than 65 million people have been displaced by conflict and famine looms in four countries.”
Chairman Royce also acknowledged that while foreign aid isn’t perfect, it’s worth protecting: “We’ll do our part to improve this, and I look forward to working with the Administration, because many of these programs are critical to our national security. We shouldn’t be cutting to the bone.”
Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, also gave a statement in support of foreign aid: “Members of this Committee on both sides of the aisle have worked hard to advance American diplomacy and development efforts. We may not always agree 100 percent of the time on the best way forward, but I like to think we all see the value in robust, bipartisan support for American international affairs.
“So I’m sure other members were shocked, as I was, when the White House released its Fiscal Year 2018 budget calling for a 31 percent cut to American diplomacy and development efforts. In my view, cutting the international affairs budget by even a fraction of that would be devastating. We haven’t seen many details, but a cut that drastic would surely mean that too many efforts and initiatives that do so much good would end up on the chopping block.”
Rep. Engel added: “Development helps to lift countries and communities up today, so they can become strong partners of us on the global stage tomorrow. A lot of us think we have a moral obligation to help cure disease, improve access to education, and advance human rights. But even if it weren’t the right thing to do, it would be the smart thing to do, because those efforts lead to greater stability, more responsive governments and stronger rule of law, populations that share our values and priorities.”
Watch the rest of the hearing below, then sign up to join our Budget Action Team. Representatives Royce and Engel are right—these programs are critical, and YOU can play a role in protecting them.