Testimony of USAID Administrator Mark Green before the Senate Appropriations Committee's State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Thank you, Senator. And thank you, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Leahy, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to summarize my written testimony, which you have. I'd like to begin by welcoming the nomination of Director Pompeo. We've had an opportunity to initially discuss how development and diplomacy go hand-in-hand, and I look forward to working with him closely should he be confirmed.

In the meantime, as you alluded to, Mr. Chairman, at USAID we have urgent work to do. From unprecedented humanitarian challenges, to exciting development opportunities, I believe our work has never been more important. And that's certainly been a clear takeaway from my travels over these last eight months.

I have just returned from Peru and the Summit of the Americas, where, while there, Acting Secretary Sullivan and I had an opportunity to meet with courageous pro-democracy activists from Cuba. They shared with us that this is a critical moment in Cuba's history and urged us to support seeds of true liberty and democracy not only for Cuba, but for Venezuela and elsewhere.

In fact, Mr. Chairman, much of the recent summit focused on Venezuela. The Vice President and I announced $16 million for our humanitarian response to the flight of Venezuelans from the despotic Maduro regime. The displacement of families is unprecedented in Latin American history. What makes the tragedy even more painful is that it is entirely man-made. It is caused by the regime's continued mismanagement and corruption. And similar forces are causing humanitarian crises in nearly every corner of the globe. Near-famines continue to rage in Nigeria, Yemen, Syria, and Somalia. Again, all man-made.

As I know you agree, in order to fully respond to these crises, we must address their underlying causes. Just as we lead the world in humanitarian assistance, we should also lead in our commitment to democracy, human rights, and responsive governance. Our Fiscal Year '19 request includes funding for our democracy and governance programs in Venezuela that support civil society, a democratically elected legislature, and the free flow of information.

Last month, I addressed the UN Security Council on the humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I urged the Kabila government to hold credible and inclusive elections by the end of the year.

And I'm deeply concerned, as I know you are, over the reports of horrific human rights abuses in Burma's northern Rakhine State. I will soon be traveling to Burma and Bangladesh myself to assess this situation first-hand.

Members of the Subcommittee, I've had a chance to discuss with many of you the rising negative influence of Russia and China. Many of you have noted a disturbing global trend toward repression of basic liberties. In response, our Fiscal Year '19 request includes targeted investments in Europe and Eurasia that support democratic institutions and civil society, while countering the Kremlin's influence.

We also recognize that China's investments in developing countries are rarely aimed at actually helping those countries achieve economic independence. Often, they come with strings attached. We must offer these countries a better choice. We should offer to help them on their journey to self-reliance, not burden them with unsustainable indebtedness.

Members of the Subcommittee, the Fiscal Year '19 request for USAID fully and partially managed accounts is approximately $16.8 billion. This represents $1.3 billion more than requested last year, including $1 billion for humanitarian assistance. We acknowledge that this request will not provide enough resources to meet every humanitarian need or seize every development opportunity. Indeed, no budget in modern times has.

This request attempts to balance fiscal needs at home with our leadership role on the world stage, and our work has never been more important or dangerous. In April alone, we've seen humanitarian workers killed in South Sudan and Yemen, simply for trying to ease the suffering that pervades both countries. We are committed to taking every step to extend the reach and effectiveness of our taxpayer resources and to protect our staff and partners. We're also committed to working closely with this committee to ensure that your ideas are reflected in our Agency's transformation plan.

Finally, I would like to say a word about recent published reports of sexual abuse and misconduct by aid workers. Like you, I am deeply troubled by the allegations. Needless to say, exploitation -- sexual exploitation -- violates everything that we stand for as an agency. I have met with our partner organizations to make absolutely clear that USAID will not tolerate sexual harassment or misconduct of any kind. We have taken numerous other steps, and we will do whatever else it is that we need to do. And I assure you that this is an issue that I am personally tracking.

With your support and guidance, we will ensure that USAID remains the world's premiere international development agency. And with that, thank you for the opportunity to appear and to testify, and I look forward to your questions. Thank you.

FY 2019 Budget Request for the U.S. Agency for International Development
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee