U.S. Department Of State
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
March 11, 2019
MR PALLADINO: Thanks. Thank you all for coming today, for joining us for the rollout of the President’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request for both the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Happy to at the top turn this over to the Deputy Secretary of State, John J. Sullivan, and the USAID Administrator Mark Green for opening comments. At the conclusion we’ll invite some subject matter experts up to kind of drill down in some of the detailed questions that you might have.
Thank you. Deputy Secretary Sullivan.
DEPUTY SECRETARY SULLIVAN: Thank you, Robert, for that introduction, and I want to thank my friend and colleague USAID Administrator Ambassador Mark Green for joining me here today to present the Fiscal Year 2020 budget request for the Department of State and USAID.
Before we get started, I want to say on behalf of the Department of State that we want to extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed in the tragic crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. There were a number of American citizens on that flight, people who worked for the United Nations, United Nations-affiliated organizations, friends, colleagues, partners of ours. It’s really an extremely sad and tragic moment for us, and our colleagues in Addis and Nairobi and Washington are working very hard to provide all the appropriate consular assistance that we can to the families of the victims at this difficult time.
Getting to the subject of hand – at hand, the President’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request is for $40 billion for the Department of State and USAID. With this funding level, we will protect our citizens at home and abroad, advance American prosperity and values, and support our allies and partners overseas.
The State Department and USAID are on the front lines of the most pressing foreign policy and national security issues facing our country today. Staffing from both of our agencies are working very hard each day to protect American freedom; hold China and Russia accountable as members of a rules-based international system; support the people of Venezuela as they work toward a peaceful restoration of democracy in their country; prevent infectious disease outbreaks from reaching our borders; assist countries to become self-reliant economic and security partners; and so much more.
With all of this on the line, we need all of our colleagues – our entire team – to be safe, prepared, and ready to take on any new challenges at a moment’s notice. Keeping our citizens safe and secure requires constant vigilance and adequate resources.
Our Fiscal Year 2020 budget request prioritizes the safety of our diplomatic and foreign assistance staff overseas. It protects chief of mission personnel from emerging threats and invests in safe, secure, and functional facilities. It will enable both the State Department and USAID to recruit, sustain, and train our global diplomatic and development workforce. Our agencies are developing new capabilities for the 21st century.
Together, with so many critical goals to advance on behalf of the American people, the State Department and USAID need resources for both diplomatic and foreign assistance programs. The Fiscal Year 2020 budget request accounts for those resources and puts U.S. foreign policy on firm footing to move into the future. Our request is guided by the principle that taxpayer dollars must be used wisely. We want to maximize the investment made by the American people and deliver exceptional results on their behalf.
President Trump has made it clear that U.S. foreign assistance should serve America’s national interest and should support those countries that help us to advance our foreign policy goals. This budget maintains critical support for key U.S. allies, including Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and Colombia. Through strategic funding and programming, this budget positions the United States to win. This means ensuring our nation is fully engaged in regions of the world upon which our national security and future prosperity depend.
In recent years, we have seen China proactively applying its power to exert its influence in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States has taken decisive steps to respond to China’s aggressive actions. We recognize that the United States’ future security, prosperity, and leadership depends on maintaining a free, open, and secure Indo-Pacific region. To advance the Indo-Pacific strategy, the budget request nearly doubles U.S. foreign assistance and diplomatic engagement resources to the region.
Our budget request is also guided by the realization that the threats imposed by Russia have evolved beyond external or military threats and now include influence operations in the very heart of America and the Western world. This budget prioritizes countering Russian malign influence in Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia.
As we speak, the people of Venezuela continue to fight for their freedom in the face of a tyrannical and corrupt leader who refuses to step down. The Fiscal Year 2020 budget request includes funding to support democracy in Venezuela and provides the flexibility to make more funds available to support a democratic transition, including up to $500 million in transfer authority.
In the past year, the United States has been out front in global efforts to help persecuted religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East and elsewhere. On a trip to Iraq last fall, I experienced first-hand the positive impact of this kind of assistance and what it has done in these devastated communities. Working with local actors and community leaders, our assistance programs clear the explosive remnants of war to help keep families safe, restore access to services like health and education, improve economic opportunities, and more. But there is much more work that needs to be done.
The Fiscal Year 2020 budget supports an increase in our efforts to empower religious and ethnic minorities, including requesting funds for new opportunities among different communities in need, and continuing U.S. leadership to promote global religious freedom.
In addition, our budget request for Fiscal Year 2020 includes a Diplomatic Progress Fund so we can effectively respond to new opportunities arising from diplomatic and peace progress and emerging counter-Iran needs.
The diplomatic challenges we face today are particularly difficult due to rapid, continual advances in media and technology. Our human resources and organizational structures must keep pace with these changes. The Fiscal Year 2020 budget fully funds State and USAID’s current workforce levels, enabling us to take on emerging policy challenges.
The priority we place on safety and security extends beyond physical facilities to our networks and data. The budget request will seek to strengthen the State Department and USAID IT systems, prioritizing cybersecurity enhancements.
And speaking of the threats to our homeland, there are few efforts as important to this administration and to the safety and security of the American people as securing our borders. The State Department and USAID budget request will support U.S. border security by strengthening visa vetting; targeting illicit pathways that transnational criminal organizations are using to traffic drugs, money, weapons, and even human beings from the Western Hemisphere; and enhancing governance and boosting local economies to discourage illegal immigration.
Our budget request for Fiscal 2020 also protects against infectious disease threats by bolstering country capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to any future outbreaks and prevent epidemics. These efforts mean retaining our place as a global leader in health assistance. With this budget, the United States will remain the single largest donor to global HIV/AIDS relief efforts.
Several other important additions to the Fiscal Year 2020 budget request will increase private sector involvement in global development, optimize our humanitarian assistance, and advance partner countries in their journey toward self-reliance. My colleague USAID Administrator Ambassador Mark Green will introduce those vital elements of the 2020 budget request shortly.
Through all of these efforts, and more, our budget promotes American interests while continuing our country’s legacy as a beacon of freedom to the world. The President’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2020 sets our agencies, and our country, up for success, and I appreciate the opportunity to introduce it to all of you this afternoon.
Again, thank you for joining us, and with that I will turn it over to Ambassador Mark Green.
MR GREEN: Thank you, Deputy Secretary Sullivan. John laid out well, I think, a number of the USAID and State shared priorities, so I’ll keep my remarks relatively brief. But I would like to begin in joining him in expressing our sadness over the many lives lost in yesterday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash. As was mentioned, we understand that it included at least eight U.S. citizens, as well as a number of members of USAID partner organizations. As many of you know, I have a really deep gratitude and admiration for the many heroes of humanitarian work, and this particular route and this particular flight was used regularly by humanitarian and development organizations in the region. People working each and every day to save lives and make the world just a little bit better place despite the risks. Our hearts go out to all of those who lost loved ones and our thoughts and prayers are truly with them during this difficult time.
With that, on to the more mundane subject of the budget.
While fiscally conservative, I believe this budget’s request will support our goal of advancing countries on their journey to self-reliance. It aims to help partner countries build capacity so they can eventually take on their own development challenges.
By supporting our tools aimed at reducing the reach of conflict, spreading the – or preventing the spread of pandemic diseases, and counteracting the drivers of violence, instability, and other security threats, this budget will strengthen U.S. national security.
It also strengthens American economic leadership by supporting our investments that expand markets for American goods, leveling the playing field for American businesses, as well as supporting more stable, more resilient, and more democratic societies.
As many of you have noted in recent months, many parts of the world have seen an exponential growth of predatory financing that is dressed up as foreign assistance.
This budget supports USAID’s efforts to aggressively communicate the stark differences between authoritarian financing tools and the approach that we and our allied donor nations use. Our approach is true assistance. It helps partner nations build their own self-reliance and a more dynamic, private enterprise-driven future. It incentivizes reform to spur private enterprise and free markets, attract investments, and again, foster self-reliance.
We also aim to help partner countries recognize the costs of alternative models, like those of China and Russia. Their approach seeks to weaken confidence in democratic and free market systems, saddle countries with unsustainable debt, lead to the forfeiture of strategic resources, and further the militaristic ambitions of those authoritarian actors. In coming weeks, we will unveil a framework that we’ll use to help counter malign Kremlin influence, especially in Europe and Eurasia and Central Asia, and this budget supports that work.
Our efforts in this regard will be made easier as the new development finance corporation is stood up later in the year.
It will also be made more clear as the Trump administration accelerates our partnerships in the Indo-Pacific. I firmly agree with the deputy secretary that our security and prosperity at home is closely tied to a stable and free Indo-Pacific region. Working with State and others, our strategic investments will promote open, transparent, and citizen-responsive governance across that Indo-Pacific region.
A third way we will be able to sharply contrast our approach is through the administration’s efforts to promote inclusive economic growth, especially at it relates to full economic participation by women around the world. The National Security Strategy clearly identifies women’s empowerment as a priority integral to economic prosperity and global stability. Last month, the President signed a presidential security memorandum decisively linking the ability of women to participate fully and freely in the economy with greater peace and prosperity across the world.
We have also officially launched the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, known as WGDP, which aims to economically empower 50 million women in developing countries by the year 2025. The WGDP fund, established at USAID, included an initial commitment of 50 million U.S. dollar – 50 million U.S. funds from Fiscal Year ’18. Support is being doubled in this budget proposal to $100 million for the fund to support workforce development and skills training, greater access to capital, and changes to the enabling environment so that around the world, women all have the opportunity to reach their full economic potential.
As you all know, USAID is not only our lead agency in development assistance, but we are known around the world for our humanitarian assistance and crisis response as well. The U.S. will continue its role as the world leader in humanitarian assistance, but we’ll also call on others to do their part and we’ll work relentlessly to assure that assistance is delivered as effectively and as efficiently as possible.
The consolidation of our overseas humanitarian assistance program funding within our new Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance supports the administration’s commitment to optimize humanitarian investments by leveraging the strengths at both State and USAID.
Nowhere is America’s leadership in humanitarian assistance more important, or quite frankly, more timely, than in our continued response to the man-made, regime-driven crisis in Venezuela. The Department of State and USAID are committed to providing support to those affected by the ongoing humanitarian crisis. We are also both dedicated to supporting a future democratic transition for the people of Venezuela. We vow to stand with them as they fight for a government that represents their interests and is responsive to their needs.
This budget significantly expands our investments in another kind of freedom – as the deputy secretary mentioned, the freedom of religion. In particular, we will continue our important assistance to those religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East whom ISIS sought to extinguish.
Finally, the 2020 budget aligns closely with and supports the implementation of USAID’s internal reform initiative or transformation. This will allow us to strengthen our core capabilities, increase our efficiency, and ultimately reduce costs. We’re creating an agency that is capable of leveraging our influence and authority and available resources to transform the way that humanitarian and development assistance are provided. And alongside the rest of the world, we will work hard and forcefully to meet the daunting challenges that we all face.
While the funding generously provided by Congress is never enough to meet every demand and every need in the world, we will ensure that USAID remains the world’s premier international development agency and continues the work we do each day and every day to protect America’s future security and prosperity.
And thank you for the honor of being able to be with you today. Thank you.