The FY 2016 State Department and USAID Budget: A Statement of U.S. Priorities and Values

February 27, 2015
Photographers Surround Secretary Kerry Before Testimony to House Foreign Affairs Appropriations Committee in Washington

This week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry testified before the U.S. Congress on the FY 2016 State Department and USAID budget. In his testimony, the Secretary said, “…The funds that we devote to the entire range of foreign policy programming … all of that amounts to less than 1 percent of the federal budget. And yet it’s not an exaggeration to say that that 1 percent probably has an impact on 50 percent or more of the history that will be written about this era.”

The Secretary urged Congress to work with him to shape that history in ways that will advance our nation’s interests and uphold the values that U.S. citizens represent.  He drew attention to the many instances in which the United States is leading on the global stage, whether responding to the Ebola outbreak or modernizing our relationships with the Asia-Pacific.  In his testimony, he highlighted how the Department will carry out its work to:

  • Address the crisis in Syria, including support for Syria’s neighbors, and confront and counter ISIL.
  • Support the civilian-led transition in Afghanistan, including support to train, advise, and assist Afghan security forces.
  • Provide support for critical humanitarian needs, including life-saving assistance for refugees, internally displaced persons, and others in need worldwide.
  • „„Support ongoing engagement in the Asia-Pacific region by strengthening our alliances.
  • Focus on economic development issues, including energy and the environment.
  • Counter Russian pressure through vital support to Ukraine and countries in the region.
  • Support international peacekeeping efforts to mitigate and prevent conflict.
  • Support a whole-of-government strategy for Central America to address the underlying factors of undocumented migration.

The Secretary underscored how the budget request would promote American leadership as well as national security, diplomatic, and development priorities in pursuit of global stability and economic prosperity. 

As the Secretary said, the test of our leadership has never been to eliminate risks in the world, because that is not possible. The test has been whether we can manage them decisively over time in ways that reduce peril and strengthen the forces of democracy, humanity, justice, law, and human rights. A robust foreign affairs budget helps us achieve those goals.

About the Author: Hari Sastry serves as the Director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources, and Barbara Retzlaff serves as the Director of the Bureau of Budget and Planning at the U.S. Department of State.

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