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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  March 15, 2016 2:00am-4:01am EDT

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people's impressions of the united states is you and your teams who are there in a sustained way. and day in day out are helping people, whether it's a business trying to get a visa or it is a family trying to be reunited, you are solving problems. and that has a ripple affect all across the countries where you are serving. and i know it's not always easy. dedicated personnel have made, in some cases, the ultimate sacrifice because the world can be dangerous. including chris stevens. since then, we have lost others in afghanistan and other places. our embassy guard in ankara. in pakistan, two locally employed staff.
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so we remember and we honor their service. there are real risks involved in being a diplomat. there always have been, and many of those risks are accentuated today. i know that service can mean sacrifice for families as well. some of you serve at unaccompanied posts, which means that you are separated from your loved ones. when families deploy and spouses and children serve in their own way, we know that they don't always hear directly from the president. so i need to you transmit to them how much we appreciate the work that they do. let them know that we know they are part of the ambassadorial team as well. more broadly, i want to thank you for your partnership in what has been a priority for us. and that is renewing american leadership. i believe that a broader vision of american strength that
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harnesses all elements of our national power, including diploma diplomacy, is what is going to make a difference in this complicated age that we live in. that's how we build a global coalition to deal with iran. strong sanctions plus diplomacy. and under the nuclear deal, iran will not get its hands on a nuclear weapon. that's how we forthed t forges transpacific partnership which will help to rewrite trade and rebalance america in the asia-pacific. that's how we stopped ebola. deploying our own personnel, military, doctors, usaid, cdc and helping the west african partners save countless lives. that's how we work with countries like china and india and nearly 200 nations to reach the paris agreement, most ambitious global agreement ever to fight climate change. and diplomacy, including having
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the courage to turn a page on the failed policies of the past is how we have begun a new chapter of engagement with the people of cuba. what a historic day it was when john reopened our embassy in havana. next week, i look forward to being the first u.s. president to visit cuba in nearly 90 years. without a battleship accompanying me. now, we all know how much work we have do. as i said, i plan to do everything that i can with every minute that i have left in this office to keep making progress and make the world safer, more prosperous and to deal with the enormous challenges that so many people are burdened with around the world. we will leave it all on the field. and i'm going to need the help and the partnership of all of you as we focus on key areas coming up. first and foremost, we have got
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to continue to keep our nation safe. especially from the threat of terrorism. and all of you have a role to play in that process. we're going to have to continue to strength our global coalition against isil, whether it's the air campaign, support for local partners, cutting off isil financing, preventing the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, working with partners to counter isil's bankrupt, nihilistic ideology. we're going to have to keep pushing on the diplomatic front, because that's the only way the large earn syrian conflict will end with a political transition and an inclusive syrian government. we're going to have to keep strengthening partnerships from west africa, as we saw again yesterday, to afghanistan. these countries are battling terrorism. they need our help. we're going to have to keep working with allies and partners to stabilize libya and yemen. we have to keep living up to our values and move ahead on our
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plan, including safely transferring detainees to finally close the detention center at guantanamo bay. we are not going to stop -- [ applause ] -- making the effort to do that. so we gotta continue to fight terrorism and do so in a way that's consistent with our values. it's what we have done over the last 7 1/2 years. that's what we're going to continue to do. and all of you have a role to play, and all of you know that in the countries where you are working, it makes a difference. when the perception is that america is abiding by its values. it makes your job easier. it makes it easier for us to obtain the cooperation we need. i'm very proud of the work we've done so far. but we've got many more work that we have to do. second, we're going to have to keep mobilizing the world to
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meet shared challenges. that includes strengthening intere international rules. we will have to ensure that iran fully meets its commitments under the nuclear deal to make sure that we're enforcing effective sanctions on north korea, that at our upcoming summit here in washington we are continuing to increase nuclear security. in europe, with our nato allies, we're continuing to bolster our common defenses. we are continuing to push to make sure that the minsk agreement is upheld and we are supporting ukraine's right to self-determination. on climate change, we have to ensure that nations meet their paris commitments, that the united states does so as well, and we invest in new clean energy solutions and help developing countries deal with climate change and ensuring that they do not feel that they have
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to choose between uplifting their people economically and preserving the planet. we're going to have to continue to work on transnational threats like cyberattacks. making sure that we have put in place an architecture so we have rules governing that space. preventing epidemics through our global health security agenda. making sure that we are not just reacting to something like the ebola crisis but that we are systematically putting in place the kinds of global networks and responses that can help count countries not only help their own people but also make sure that in an era of international travel and globalization that our own people are not put in harm's way.
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third, even as we confront threats, we've got to keep partnering with nations and people to seize the incredible opportunities in this moment in history. we have to keep standing up for citizens who are striving to forge their own future through open government and insisting on the dignity of all people so that we're respecting human rights around the world. in the asia-pacific, we have to move ahead with our rebalance, strengthening our alliances, supporting the transition inn n myanm myanmar. creating opportunity, growing the regional's middle class, helping columbia achieve peace
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and helping central america reduce violence and poverty. in africa, with its enormous economic and human potential, we're going to continue to work with partners to increase trade and investment, lift people into the middle class, etxpand acces to electricity and support strong democratic institutions. across these regions, we've got to keep forging partnerships that encourage young people. entreprene entrepreneurs, students. through programs like 100,000 strong or young leaders or southeast asia, i will tell you and i think some of you have participated in these, when we have these meetings with young people in these regions, they are hungry to learn from the united states and to partner with us. and we have to not only focus on
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challenges and threats, but opportunities and hope. we have to feed what's best in the world and not just try to address what's worst. and finally, with american leadership, we can mobilize more nations as we stand up for human dignity and institutionalize some of the gains we have been making in development. given the urgency of the global refugee crisis, for example, we're going to need to you press governments to step up with resources that are needed as we prepare for a refugee summit at the margins this fall. we're within reach of the first aids-free generation. we're making major new commitments in our fight to reach another goal, which is a world free of malaria. if we sustain our commitment to food security through feed the future and our new alliance, we
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can boost farmers' incomes and help lift tens of millions of people from poverty. with a commitment to our new sustainable development goals, we're going to advance our objective of ending the injustice of extreme poverty, including for women and girls. so we've got a lot of work to do. and we have about ten-plus months to do it. i have to tell you though that i'm confident that we can make significant progress over these next ten months. i think over the last 3 1/2 years, people have been calling me a lame duck. somehow we have gotten a lot done. and what i always tell my team in the white house, what i tell my cabinet secretaries, what i want to share with all of you,
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is we had this unique honor of serving our country at these challenging times. and there's some young people here who will continue to serve our country in various capacities in the future. but for many of us, this is the point at which we will have the most impact, have the capacity to do the most good that we may ever have in our lives. what an incredible honor. and what an incentive for us to make sure that we squeeze every last little bit of good that we can do during these times that we're in these positions. and the good news is that when
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we are focused and true to what made us want do this in the first place and when we're true to america's best traditions, it's remarkable what we can get done. that's part of the reason why i could not be more optimistic about the future and america's place in the world. you know, economically, our businesses have created more than 14 million jobs during the longest consecutive streak of job growth in our history. our leadership in innovation and technology remains unmatched. militarily, we are the most powerful nation on earth by far with the finest fighting forces the world has ever seen. no other military comes close. diplomatically, we continue to set the global agenda. some of you have participated in international forums. you know if the united states isn't right smack dab in the middle of it, if we're not helping to set that agenda, it
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doesn't happen. people look to us for leadership. somebody is calling right now to see if we would be able to answer to some problem. because of the values that you and your teams represent every day, because of our commitment to universal human rights and human development and justice and dignity for every human being, people around the world still look to one nation to lead the way. the united states of america. there's a problem, they are calling us. if there's an opportunity, they want us to help. and the reason they do is not just because of the size of our military or the size of our economy, but it's because of our people, our diplomatic ranks, our staff, our bandwidth, our capacity to focus and bring to
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bear our best thinking, that's the thing that truly sets us apart. and our ideals. i don't know that there's ever been a country -- i know there has not been a country that was the most powerful in the world but also saw itself as meeting its own self-interest by advancing the interests of others. that was willing to restrain itself in certain situations in order to build up international norms. i know that in many countries where you serve, there are real challenges. and history doesn't always move forward. sometimes it moves sideways, and sometimes it moves backwards. we make gains, and then sometimes we feel losses. and it's typically the bad news that gets reported.
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but i say this to interns that come in every six months and are full of idealism and enthusiasm and are trying to get a sense of how they can channel that and focus that. sometimes they are beating back the cynicism that's being fed to them every day. i tell them, if you had to choose one time in history in which to be born, and you didn't know ahead of time who you were going to be or what nationality, what gender, what race, whether you were wealthy or poor, what moment in history would you choose? you would choose right now. because the world has never been healthier or wealthier. violence has actually ebbed relative to so much of human
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history. it's never been more tolerant. there's never been more opportunity. and a lot of that is because of the united states of america. a lot of that is because of you. that's a pretty big deal. that makes the sacrifices worthwhile. i'm very proud of you. so let's keep it going. let's finish strong. let's run through the tape. tell your families and your teams i appreciate them. thank you very much. [ applause ] ♪
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[ applause ] ♪ [ applause ] ♪
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[ applause ] ♪ campaign 2016 continues on tuesday with primaries taking place in missouri, illinois and swing states ohio, north carolina and florida. live coverage of the election results, candidate speeches a e viewer reaction.
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taking you to the road to the white house. on next washington journal, we talk to north carolina congresswoman virginia foxx about the republican agenda and the 2016 campaign. then florida congresswoman kathy castor joins us to discuss cuba including restoring diplomatic ties with havana. join the conversation by phone or on facebook and twitter. live each morning at 7:00 eastern. on capitol hill tuesday, the house oversight committee holds the second round of hearings on the water crisis in flint, michigan. we will take you there live at 10:00 a.m. eastern here on c-span3. representatives from google, gm and lyft talk about the future of self-driving cars at a hearing. that's live at 2:30 eastern also
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on c-span3. israeli defense minister moshe ya'alon expressed concerns today about the iran nuclear deal and talked about israel's relationship with the u.s. and palestinians. from the wilson center in washington, this is just over an hour. >> good morning, everyone. thank you all for coming. i am joseph gildenhorn, former ambassador to switzerland and former chairman of the wilson center board of trustees. i really thank everyone for being here today. let me recognize an important group who are central to the success of the wilson center. we thank our outstanding president who regrets she cannot be here today but extends her
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best regards. let me also acknowledge director of our middle east program at theanre barkey, director of our middle east program at the wilson center. the program continues to be a key forum in washington for serious discussion of middle east issues. we are also pleased and honored to be joined by the israel outstanding ambassador to the united states, who is here with us today. thank you, ron. and i would like to welcome and recognize major general aish who is here today accompanying the minister. sandra gerber, our former vice chairman of the wilson center board of trustees and member of our cabinet. never has the middle east region been as unstable and challenging as it is today. syria is in chaos.
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iran continues to assert its power in the region. the israeli-palestinian conflict continues with no end in sight. isis continues to expand beyond its border. and russia is now a new factor in the equation. we asked how does israel, a small yet powerful country that sits in the middle of this region, prioritize these challenges and more importantly, what is israel's current strategy for dealing with them. there are no people better qualified to address these questions than the minister of defense for the state of israel, moshe ya'alon, who is in washington this week to meet with our u.s. secretary of defense, ash carter, who is also a very good friend of the wilson center. we are so pleased to have you, mr. minister. welcome to washington. it is also my pleasure to welcome aaron david miller, vice
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president of the wilson center, and middle east expert who will lead this conversation. please join me in welcoming them both. [ applause ] >> joey, thank you so much. you have done so much for the wilson center. you have no idea how greatly we appreciate your efforts. mr. minister, you were here in 2012. i want to welcome you back to the woodrow wilson international center for scholars, the living memorial to 28th president, the only ph.d. president and the only president buried in washington, d.c. which is perhaps a commentary, however sad, on what our presidents thought of the nation's capital in their time here. the two of us go back a long way. at least since the late '80s and early '90s. we have watched the u.s.'s relationship develop, we watched the ups, mostly downs, when it
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came to the pursuit of arab-israeli peace and even when we disagreed, i always appreciated the clarity and economy of language with respect to your analysis. i continue to believe that if you want to change the world, you have to first understand it and that requires at times sober judgments on the way the world is rather than the way we want it to be. the format today is to have a 20, 25 minute conversation what
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are the key challenges and are you pretty confident that in fact, there will be an agreem t agreement. >> good morning, everybody. thank you, ambassador, for the introduction. thank you, everyone, for hosting me tonight.
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in thinking about our discussion here in 2012, so many issues have been changed, so many developments in our region that we have to discuss. first of all, i'm here to discuss the cooperation between the united states of america and the state of israel regarding defense. we do enjoy a stable relationship when it comes to the pentagon or minister of defense, similarly between the secretary of defense, ash carter, and myself, the armed forces both sides, intelligence agencies, for the benefit of our two countries, talking about
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common values and no doubt common interests shared between our two countries and though we might have a couple of disputes which we have in the last couple of years and even now regarding the challenges ahead of us and the way that we should deal with them. the issue is on the table. we hope to conclude it as soon as possible. i have agreed with the secretary of defense about the capabilities available to the state of israel to keep what we call our collective military edge in the region and hopefully we will be able to sign the mou sooner rather than later. of course, when we talk about the u.s. support to our country
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regarding defense, we are very appreciative. we are thankful to the administration led by president barack obama but we do have -- regarding the future. we believe iran of today is more confident and free to act in the region with more money as a result of the sanctions relief, violating many u.n. resolutions, international resolutions regarding the proliferation of arms and more money now as a result of sanctions relief to finance hezbollah in lebanon, to finance hamas and other rogue elements in the region and to go
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on with the terror infrastructure in five continents, including north america, south america, europe, asia, africa and the middle east. so they haven't changed their nature. they chant death to america, they consider america as the great satan, we are likely to be considered as a minor satan. very provocative regarding the ballistic missile which is a violation of u.n. resolution. just provocative tests last week on one of the missiles and believe israel should be wiped off the map. those reasons are part of the consideration when we talk about mou for the next decade and of course, the arms race in our region as a result of the deal,
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the sunni regime in the region share a lot of common interest with us nowadays are going to procure weapons for about $200 billion. so in this case, issue of the mou has to be concluded and we hope it will be concluded very soon. >> i'm going to push you on the u.s./israel relationship just a bit. we both watched this relationship develop over the years and there have been tensions, differences of opinion between american presidents and israeli prime ministers before. the current prime minister in his first term and bill clinton. bush 43 and ariel sharon. this relationship, though, has been battered and hammered and there seems to me to be a loss of -- an absence of trust and
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confidence. israeli-u.s. relationships can be dysfunctional but productive. we have seen in the ones i mentioned that yes, there's dysfunction but it's also -- they can also produce things. this relationship seems to be kind of defying the laws of political gravity. i guess my question is when the administration says whatever the difference is between the prime minister and the president, that it is committed to security relationship and institutional nature of the u.s.-israel relationship is sound, closer than ever, is that a statement you would agree with or has the relationship between the two at the top begun to affect the nature of the u.s.-israel relationship? >> our relationship, talking about the relationship between united states and state of
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israel, are connected by open channels on a daily basis, intelligence sharing know-how, experience, technologies. when it comes to certain challenges, we might have differences. the big difference, our approach to the deal with iran. we do have differences regarding what should have been done in syria, what should be done in syria. the fact is this regime in tehran has become central party in order to solve the problems in the middle east. why? because they are ready to fight daesh. to allow them to gain hegemony in the region and this is the case so far, because i would say
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the shiite radical axis led by iran, hezbollah in lebanon, the houthis in yemen, shiite elements in bahrain, saudi arabia, this axis is exploiting the deal now to gain hegemony. for sure the hegemony in tehran, in a way hegemony in baghdad with the government, hegemony in beirut regarding hezbollah and now there is going to be hegemony in damascus. so to perceive iran as a central player in solving or settling, bringing about stability to the region, no way. so to leave us, talking about syria, with iran dominating syria, we can't believe it. and this is the case so far.
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looking to the last two years, going back to the last two years regarding terror attacks perpetrated on syrian soil, in golan heights, the ten of them, that were all of them, actually, ten terror attacks, perpetrated, operated by iran revolutionary guard. not even one attack by sunni and they did it from -- governed in the territory. not one attack forms opposition to territory. whether it was rocket launchings, explosive along the border and so forth. revolutionary guard and quds forces. so to allow now iran to be situated on our border, we don't
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share a border with iran. of course, we don't have any dispute with this regime whatsoever. but they still want israel to be wiped off the earth. why? because of their ideology. there is no room for a jewish state in what they call the islamic state. to allow iran to dominate syria is disrespect. we have a dispute about situation in iran. we didn't favor the muslim brotherhood government. of course, we do not intervene even in syria. we have very clear policy regarding our experience. but when 30 million egyptians went to the street to get rid of the muslim brotherhood
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government, we thought that to allow general assisi, my counterpart at that time, to take over the military abilities, to become the president, it should have been western interest, let's put it this way. that was a dispute. and of course, when it comes to [ inaudible ], what is the call of the public? this occupation since '67 -- occupation since '48, which is our existence. so let's deal with it first of
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all by common understanding of the challenge. if you don't understand, if you don't agree about this, how can you agree about the. [ inaudible ] 1500 casualties. it's about so many misconceptions regarding the confli conflict. and not make more mistakes.
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as we did agree in the past we made many mistakes. today we have a situation in which no doubt we are going through geopolitical [ inaudible ]. long story but basically the nation, artificial nation state collapsed. that's now the lesson of history. why did it happen? western leaders were sitting after world war i creating artificial borders, ignoring gadhafi, ignoring the culture, the mentality in the region, seeking to -- the middle east. forgetting that in europe, it took about 200 years for the
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agreement and even in europe, yugoslavia, was a collapse or the failure. again, sectarian differences, sectarian religious differences and so forth. we claim it was a result of western mistakes, whether it was naivete, wishful thinking or patronism. we try to implement what we believe is a realistic strategy in the region. we don't claim they should become [ inaudible ].
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to propose, to offer, you can't for democracy by election. one person, one vote, once, no second chance for the opposition. it might have happened in egypt. they exploited the rules of the game not to bring about democracy. so this kind of difference should be discussed. we believe that living in the region, we have some understanding regarding the challenges. we have many ideas, many thoughts about what should be done in this chaotic situation. by avoiding naivete, by avoiding wishful thinking and by avoiding patronism the way that it was done in the past about the middle east.
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>> mr. minister, if it's true that where you stand in life is driven by where you sit, i'm wondering whether or not there isn't a structural divide which is very difficult to bridge. we miss it with non-predatory neighbors to our north and south and fish to our east and west. one historian called our liquid assets. these oceans are very important. you sit in a different environment and in a different region. regardless of whether there's a republican or democrat in the white house, seems to me that those differences particularly in view of the geopolitical earthquake you're strike and the instability, can only grow. i'm a great believer in the special nature of this relationship. i worry about it from time to time as well. before we move off this, because
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i do want to get to questions from the audience, what is the one thing in your view that you think washington, hard to speak about official washington, but we will keep it generic to avoid the r and d problem, what is the one thing in your view that washington gets wrong about israel? and the national security challenges it faces? >> you will allow me two things? >> i will. >> one is the challenge of iran. as i said earlier, we do argue. i also believe that the deal might bring about a change in the atmosphere in iran and to
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have more moderate regime in tehran. our assessment that we are not going to expect -- in tehran. and this regime in a smart way, in a very smart way, succeeded in keeping the indigenous capabilities to have a nuclear war. they didn't have to destroy anything regarding the nuclear project which is very important for them. and within 10 to 15 years or even earlier, they might acquire the capabilities. i believe that if and when this regime will feel confident regarding the economy, rehabilitation of the economy, they might decide to break off. it might be five years, seven years, ten years or waiting
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until the end of the deal which is 10 to 15 years. so this regime actually was giving up its timetable of the project, they haven't given up neither the vision nor the aspiration to acquire and for me to gain hegemony of the region. this is ideology. how come lebanon, we have a lebanese government but the one who has to make the decision to go to war is hezbollah? the government is irrelevant. bashar al assad is dependent on iran and hezbollah. bad news. in yemen, they did the same with
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hezbollah. they armed the houthis since 2009 and when they felt confident, they went out from the county to take over, almost dominating -- the state controlled by iran, this is the strategy. they are still ambitious, undermining the sunni regimes in the region. they acted ready to sacrifice. they were ready to pay for those elements before taking account of the economic situation inside iran. we don't agree. the second is about the israel-palestine conflict. first of all, what is the place
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of this? we still hear about the instability in the middle east is the result of the palestine conflict. you can't stabilize the middle east. it was ridiculous in the past, it's ridiculous today. what is the linkage between the uprising? the revolution in egypt -- what is the connection between the ongoing civil war? almost half a billion casualties. this is because of israel. the sectarian violence in iraq. there is a conflict between us and the palestinians and there are many misconceptions. does it cause a problem whether it is occupation since '67 or the reluctance to recognize our
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right to exist as a nation state with the jewish people. it has been proved many times, rejected in the last several years, otherwise talking about settlements and borders. why? in this case, just to get, not to give anything. let's talk about everything. when he closed the door in front of both secretary of state february 2014 and president obama march 2014, he wasn't blamed. why? he's too weak to be accountable. the issue of accountability -- what is the most important value which is missing in the middle
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east is accountability. our neighbors are used to deny accountability. officially he is governing gaza but he is not accountable. hamas is accountable. he's not accountable for his people. because of incompetence, because of corruption, because of denial of accountability. so when he closed the door in front of president obama, he should have been blamed. he should be accountable. nowadays, we try to make progress. i can tell you that we don't want to govern the palestinians. we are happy that they enjoy political independence. they have their own government, they have the parliament, they
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have political institutions, municipalities. they decided to be divided to two political entities. hamas and the palestinian authority. fine. what about their accountability for the economy? incompetence, corruption. that's why they are dependent on us. even in gaza they are dependent on us. so when it comes to what to do with it if you don't want to govern them, we propose let's make progress step by step on the bottom up. let's improve the economy. let's improve the government, the competence to govern themselves. security. law and order. judicial system. whatever. too weak to be accountable. so a tremendous mistake. that's kind of differences makes it all strategy regarding the middle east poor one.
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>> last question and we will go to the audience. you have had so much experience operationally, strategically but most important for me, analytically because i don't think that wise policy can be made without sound analysis. we get ourselves into all kinds of trouble by seeing the world the way we want it to be rather than the way it is. israel's a relatively young country in its modern form. 68 years after our independence, if you had looked at the united states, you would have seen fundamentally different country. than the one that exists today. i would argue to you that at 68, you could make the same argument that neither the borders of the state of israel nor perhaps even the character of the state, there's great disagreement among
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israelis, arab israelis, religious israelis. my question to you involves the impact of non-resolution of this problem. i don't know who, including in this administration, would continue to make the argument that the key to middle east stability or u.s. credibility was an unresolved or the resolution of the israeli-palestinian problem. i bought it at one point. things were different then. they are no longer that way. it's very important but as an israeli, that's my question to you. no resolution leads to what? >> i wish to solve the israeli-palestinian conflict. it's not going to be settled in my lifetime. and it is a matter of -- i'm
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trying to avoid wishful thinking. it's a matter of alternatives. let's imagine that we will not now -- in sudan, somalia and west bank. i'm sure we would have faced hamas in west bank armed with mortars, rockets, snipers in jerusalem and so forth and so forth. with palestinian-islamic jihad in west bank like the case it is in gaza. daesh in the west bank like it is in gaza. can they survive it?
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as we try really hard, we were ready to make compromise but they reject it. very consistent, '37, '47, 2000, december, president clinton proposal, rejected and so forth so it's a matter of alternative. we can manage. none are happy for this instability. it is a matter of alternative.
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as long as this is situation, of course, we should enjoy the freedom in sudan, somalia and west bank. i was in uniform when we were to be deployed. there were bombing attacks every week. then we were informed -- and we succeeded in eliminating the infrastructure. without our field of operation, we wouldn't have survived for sure. we make 80% to 90% of the -- in counterterrorism in the west bank. the palestinians are doing at the most 10% to 20%.
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so it's a matter of alternatives. yes, we are ready to make progress. we are ready to as i said, to go from the bottom up step by step to improve the situation and even today, talking about the ordinary palestinian. we want him to live in dignity, to enjoy wellbeing. this is the case with most of them. if they complain, first of all they complain to the palestinian authority because of incompetence. most of the demonstration until this recent wave of terror was the manipulations -- where again the palestinian authority. nothing against israel. so it's a matter of alternative. we can manage and i believe that trying to push a solution, well
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known solution, again and again, well known solution. why did it fail? with all our effort, why did it fail? it might be that we had the wrong diagnosis. it might be. so let's allow us to deal with it and especially all the ideas of external intervention today are negative incentive to come to the table, to make progress, as long as they hear about the french initiative or might be u.s. initiative or u.s. speech or bringing the issue to the national security council or icc. this is the way to escape the reality on the ground. if it is the case in which we seek together, we do cooperate, yes, but we can do even more.
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don't interrupt us. >> thank you. all right. questions? sandra gruber. >> thank you, minister, for joining us. last week, vice president biden made a very strong statement condemning the p.a. for not condemning the terrorism. at the same time as you know, the p.a. pays the terrorists pursuant to law passed in 2010. so my question is, do you think biden knows that the p.a. pays the terrorists and if he does, what is the point of asking the p.a. to condemn the terrorism when at the same time they are paying the terrorists pursuant to law? >> it is not just about condemning the terrorism which is very important. and yes, he succeeded in escaping any condemnation even in front of the vice president
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after the murder of -- but avoiding the condemnation encourages the terrorists to go on with their activities. it's a signal. but it starts with education. i served as the head of intelligence in 1995, august '95 i came to the prime minister saying i have to warn you, this is strategic early warning, i don't see any sign for reconciliation on the palestinian side. there is no plan for co-exi co-existence with the jewish state. i can testify about the way i educated my kids. official education, co-equal.
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living together side by side. when i said it to prime minister rabin i just had to open the palestinian textbooks. not the hamas textbook. the palestinian authority textbook. this is the case now. if you educate kids from kindergarten to hate the jews, to hate the israelis, to admire the homicide bombers, we shouldn't be surprised at 15 years old youngster has a problem with his father on a specific morning and late afternoon, he murdered a jewish mother. so easy. so is the palestinian authority. in 1995, and when he asked what
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should be done, any dollar, any penny given to this palestinian authority should be conditioned by educational reform. this is a basic. payment for the prisoners and all the other issues, the reluctance to condemn the terrorists, but is too weak to be accountable, as i mentioned. tremendous mistake. he should be having responsibility. >> thanks. yes, over here. please identify yourself. >> thank you very much. raheem hashidi from kurdistani tv. first, what is your opinion of kurdish forces in fight against isis? do you think the peshmerga should be -- and second question, if kurdistan will be a state, how important is it for stability in the region? thank you very much.
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>> thank you for your question. if i have to think about any kind of psychological situation in syria as well as in iraq, we have the two kurdish sectors in iraq and syria. the only way that we can live is any kind of federation. there's no way to unify syria. also i'm talking about strategy to unify syria through bashar al assad or someone else, leaving syria no chance. wishful thinking. and to talk about a kind of federation, bashar al assad controls today 30% of his former territory. that's it.
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we know the turks are not happy with it but in the end, there is a kurdish authority in syria. there is a kurdish authority in iraq. they might cooperate with the regime as they do now. the problem is when it comes to the sunnis, we have daesh, al qaeda followers, muslim brotherhood elements. so first of all, let's find a way to have a kind of federation or whatever, let's also agree to have this kind of federation and then fighting the other or whatever.
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the problem is that there are so many contradictory interests regarding the situation in syria as an example. there are those who support bashar al assad regime like iran, hezbollah, russia today with its intervention in syria. and even western policies first of all believing iran should be a central part of the settlement or the solution as i mentioned earlier. so -- demonstrated their capabilities to fight daesh. why not support other moderates in syria, like sunni moderates, to fight? western party decided to sit on the fence and the kurds in syria
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will defeat daesh, to the point that it started to get support. and then you have to settle this contradictory interest with turkey, saudi arabia has a strong interest. there is a need for different strategy regarding syria. but the idea to unify syria back to become as it was in the past [ inaudible ]. >> way in the back next to the camera. last row. >> from voice of america persian tv. sir, last week, general austin told senate foreign relation committee that iran's missile test is with the intention to achieve the ability to carry the
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atomic warhead and also prime minister netanyahu yesterday asked the international community to enforce more punitive measures against iran ballistic missile test. you are going to meet with ashton carter, defense secretary, while staying here. what is it that you are going to ask him regarding this? >> i am not going to tell you what i am going to ask him but generally speaking, generally speaking, no doubt one is the proliferation of arms. we have hard evidence they deliver weapons to organizations in the region, to hezbollah which is here now even in --
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deliver money, deliver weapons, advanced weapons and so forth, delivering weapons to the houthis in yemen. hard evidence on a daily basis. it's a violation of u.n. security council resolution. so it's one reason to sanction this regime. the second is the missile, the ballistic missile test. very provocative. believing they are not going to be harmed. the third reason is human rights
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issues. yes, we hear that most of the iranians are not happy with this regime but it succeeded to strengthen its grip in governing in the last 30 years or so, going back to the revolution of 1979. hanging dissidents in the marketplaces today. oppression, suppression. so if you are looking for reasons to sanction this regime, there are just three of them. >> over here on the left. >> just another question shimilr to what my colleague asked about the kurds. in 2014 when prime minister netanyahu became the first head of state to openly endorse an independent kurdistan, he said such a state would serve as some sort of bulwark against the rise
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of islamic extremism. just can you elaborate more on that from a military perspective, how would israel benefit from an independent kurdistan. the second question is, this u.s.-led coalition against isis includes at least 60 nations. there doesn't seem to be any role for israel to play in this coalition. why is that? >> mr. minister, why don't you take one of the two questions? >> one of them? >> yeah. i want to see if we can get to some others as well. >> okay. i take one of the questions. the first one. as i mentioned, the problem in the middle east regarding the occupation of nation states, it's a matter of democracy. illustrating the boundaries of the new created states in the
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region, straight lines, looking to draw them as an example, very nice explanation for straight lines to the east. the ipcs, iraqi petroleum company pipeline, to be defended both sides, that was recommendation of the british officers and that's what it did. on each sightline you can see -- so we believe looking to the future, that to keep autonomous states, whatever, based on our general -- like it might be in syria, might be in iraq, in other countries, this might be
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an option. to allow the kind of stability, they enjoy autonomy in iraq and syria, they believe they should enjoy autonomy. whether it should be considered in other considerations in the region, internal consideration, external consideration, but this is a way to bring about stability for the region. that's why you need full support. >> back here on my left. >> eric rosenman from the committee for accuracy in middle east reporting in america. general ya'alon, given the lack of reconciliation on the palestinian side that you mentioned from years back and the current manipulation of the incitement, why doesn't irls close down the mechanisms by
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which that's conveyed, palestinian tv, disrupt social networks and so on? >> first of all, we do close but you know, in the time of information, they can escape, they can overcome it. just last weekend we closed certain media assets. they found a way to use another satellite channel, the french channel had been closed so they used other satellite channels. now we deal with this country, the way to close it, but without even satellite channels, the internet is used, the facebook, whatever. so it's quite difficult to close it. we do deal with it. it's another area of war. we do not underestimate it.
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but it's quite challenging. >> yes. straight in the back. thank you. >> thank you. i'm with the american halenic institute. we know and heard a lot lately about the good existing relationship between greece, cyprus and israel and was hoping you could speak to what it means for u.s. interests and security in the region. thank you. >> israel has strategic relations with many countries in the region, including jordan and egypt. and to the west, greece and cyprus, we believe we are on the same platform regarding the challenges ahead of us and of course, bearing in mind the
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potential exploitation, we do share a lot of economic interests as well. that's why the relationships are so strong. i have been to greece recently and to cyprus recently, and my counterparts have been to israel, prime minister netanyahu met the prime minister in cyprus recently. yes, there's a lot to be done regarding common interests between greece, cyprus and israel. >> yes. way in the back. >> good morning. don bergen with senator portman in the senate homeland security committee. during your remarks, you talked about the mou and congress is currently negotiating the ndaa as well this year.
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in light of the challenges in the middle east, what is the -- which -- what recommendations do you have for congress in helping secure the middle east and particularly our relationship with israel? >> my recommendation is not just for the congress, for the administration as well as to our european allies and other allies in the region. israel is an island of stability in the region. let's imagine that israel doesn't exist. you can imagine how many refugees might come from many countries in the region, not just from syria and iraq and north african countries and other to you. and you know that to keep this island of stability, israel
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should be supported. it should be supported politically. it should be supported security-wise. not with a lot of money, not to compare to the expenses of the world around us. as we do share information, as we do share experience, know-how, technologies, as i mentioned, so this island of stability should be supported and we do enjoy the congress support. so i don't have to recommend the congress. i have to recommend to other elements in the region and beyond. >> maybe we can take one final question. yes. in the back. second row. actually, last row, i guess. >> thank you.
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i'm from russian news agency. mr. minister, do you have any information or evidence of transferring russian weapons from syria to hezbollah? there was some concerns about it. do you share these concerns and also, what can you say about the conflict in syria with the russians, because there was some incidents as reported. thank you. >> israel has diplomatic relationship with russia since 1991. those who try to compare the situation of the old cold war is irrelevant. we do have common interests. we do argue about certain interests in the region. first of all, regarding the coordination system, russian
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forces deployed in syria and israel, we do have hotline between tel aviv and the russian facility in which we -- it is used in order to avoid any accident, what we call taking safety precautions. so we don't have to coordinate our activities when we need to act. russians don't have to coordinate their activities. but we do have this kind of coordination to avoid misunderstandings and accidents. very useful. actually, on both sides. on the russian side and israeli side, we have russian speakers. we have officers who speak
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russian. nevertheless, we had at least one incident in which russian aircraft incidentally crossed the border and was intercepted. we had the foresight to tell the russian headquarters it was done and immediately, this aircraft crossed back the border from israel to syria. we are not happy from the fact that russian-made weaponry systems are delivered to our hostile enemies like hezbollah, hamas. the problem is that these weapon systems are procured by syria or iran and then delivered to these kind of end users.
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of course, when it happens, we provide hard evidence like in the second lebanon war, russian made anti-tank guided weapons used by hezbollah against us and we asked for clarification whether russia sold this assistance to hezbollah or not. russian answer was we didn't sell, we sold it to syria. so their responsibility to inspect it. it was a case where russian-made weapon systems used by hamas. hard evidence. we provide hard evidence for it. so we have a way to clarify with russia and we hope that it would be settled. the fact that russian-made weapon systems which are sold to certain countries in the region
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but then are used by an organization, we are not happy with it and it should be settled. but we do have open channels to clarify. >> i think if i have to conclude -- >> yes. yes. >> i want to emphasize that israel is going to celebrate 68 years of independence in coming may and looking back not just on 68 years of independence but even before, israel is a successful enterprise against
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all odds. there are two elements in the region who are not ready to recognize our right to exist as a nation state this is the second islamic land swap known for jewish state. and against all odds, we are a prosperous country, by all means. first of all, the economy. we hope to exploit the gas found in the mediterranean as soon as possible. a strong prosperous economy. how come? open our minds and our hearts. this we have succeeded in using one of our abilities of disadvantages to become
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advantages. we are short of water in the '60s we voted for water with the syrians. they tied it to the jordan river. today we supply water to our neighbors. to jordan, gaza. why? because we used our sophisticated technology to develop the salination facilities, to recycle water, making disadvantages into advantages. this is a case in the military. when it comes to quantity. the size of the countries, the number of cities and population.
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we are developing and embracing technologies. we have f-16 israel. with certain israeli capabilities developed in the israeli defense industries. israeli minds and hearts. knowledge and spirit. the helmet or whatever. we have an israeli pilot in the cockpit, highly motivated, highly educated. we believe that sharing our advantages with our neighbors.
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i do it every couple of months, looking to the east unfortunately the color, which is dominating is black and gray. smoke, fire. we are ready to share it. we support the villages across the border, providing them support. as jews we can't avoid it, we can't ignore it. medical treatment, food, blankets in the winter. we are ready to share.
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but we should get rid of this reluctant lance. this is the right of the nation state of the jewish people. western and like-minded people shouldn't be manipulated and deceived by slogans like occupation, apartheid. only christian community, which is growing in the middle east today is the israeli community and we're proud of it. it's not a case in lebanon or syria or iraq, in the palestinian authority and other countries. so this kind of understanding of our unique situation in which western like-mind reasonable doubt manipulated by false propaganda. we should overcome it.
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conventional type weapons, nonconventional type weapons. it's new weapons that are a result of our success to deal. conventional type of warfare. so we need this type of understanding. we do need this kind of at least moral support. and that's what i'm asking here in washington. temperature. >> i was going to ask you to help me in thanking me for an insight f insightful discussion. >> thank you.
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on capitol hill, the second-round of hearings on the water crisis in flint, michigan. we'll take you there live at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span 3. later, represent is from google talk about the future of self-driving cars at a senate commerce science and transportation hearing. also on c-span 3.
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now the housing human and health along with the national congress of indians testified before the indians affair committee on the indian country budget. they focus on bunding needs for affordable housing, law enforcement, tribal governance and health services. this is an hour and 40 minutes.
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>> good afternoon. i call this hearing to order. today the committee will examine the president's fisal year 2017 indian country budget. the united states continues to face a federal deficit and tight budgets. the funding provided to indian people and native communities is an important federal responsibility. the president's fiscal year 2017 budget request talls for increases for tribal-related programs including the bure owe of indian affairs and indian health service. whatever funding is provided for the tribal-related programs it must be used effectively, efficiently and must fulfill federal responsibiliti responsibilities. let me be clear, funding must reflect performance metrics. it's imperative we provide these funding requests.
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before we hear from the witnesses present today, i want to recognize the vice chairman for an opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank the panelist here today. special thanks to mary smith. appreciate your endurance, your committ committee committee earlier today. thank you for being here. i want to commend the administration for detailing how the federal government will attempt to support indian country's priorities. i'm looking forward to hearing from our witnesses today in discussing how we can work together to meet our commitments to tribes. if there's one thing we should all agree on the challenges facing indian country cannot progress progress when the programs are underfunded. i strongly believe we cannot balance the budget on underfunded country.
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we're requesting modest increases. overall, these funds have impacts on initiatives that invest in the overall well being of tribal communities. so while i encourage funding, i believe it's a step in the right direction. the department of interior requested an increase over 2016 enacted levels. the interior has again focused its attention on native youth, among other things, $138 million for school construction. it's good the administration has continued to focus on this issue but the department needs to provide more details on its plans for using those requested funds. adequately funding only helps in the agency has a well thoughtout plan to use the money. sounds familiar. last month, i introduced the safety act which would require the bia to develop a ten h-year plan for school construction. i would love to hear your thoughts on that or any similar plans the department may have. in health care, the ihs has seen
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an increase, and it's still underfunded by 50% in my opinion. ihs will never be successful unless we provide are the funds needed to treat the people and the administration's request to continue prioritizing ihs funding is a step forward. the budget also proposes an increase of over $100 million for native american programs at the department of justice. we recently heard from tribes about public safety issues affecting their communities. i look forward to hearing more about how the initiatives funded by this increase would assist tribes in dealing with reservation crime. how does the request of a $50 million increase for the native american housing block grant. the program has been relatively level for the last 20 years. i do agree with my colleagues that hud must release its updating housing needs assessment. one just has to drive through a tribal community to know more funds are needed to help reduce the severe backlog that faces many tribal housing authorities. overcrowded has devastating ripple effects so we need to get serious about housing conditions in indian country.
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i recognize not everybody in this room has the same funding priorities or the same approach to tackling challenges affecting the indian country but i still hope today's hearing will open a discussion on how we can come together and find solutions to fulfill this country's trust in treaty obligations. with that, once again thank the witnesses and i want to thank the chairman for holding this hearing. >> would any other members like to make an opening statement? seeing none today, we will be hearing from the honorable carol mason, assistant attorney general opposite justice programs in the u.s. department of justice. mr. lawrence roberts, acting assistant secretary for indian affairs at the office of assistant secretary the department of interior.
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miss lordes ramirez who is the principal deputy assistant secretary, office of public and indian housing, u.s. department of hoursing and urban development. i would like to remind the witnesses that your full written testimony will be made part of the official hearing record today so please try to keep your statements to five minutes so we have time for questions. i look forward to hearing testimony of each of you beginning with assistant attorney general mason. >> thank you. chairman and distinguished members of the committee, i am very pleased to represent the department of of justice and to have this opportunity to discuss the president's fiscal year 2017 budget request for public safety initiatives in indian country. from the earliest days of this administration, i have been
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privileged to work with dedicated employees from the department to help our tribal partners ensure the safety and health of their communities. one of my proudest accomplishments as deputy associate attorney general was leading the team that created our coordinated tribal assistance solicitation which has opened up unprecedented funding opportunities for tribes. now as assistant attorney general i am fully responsible for a full array of programs. i'm pleased to say without hesitation the justice department's commitment to tribes has never been stronger. across the public safety landscape from law enforcement and litigation, to funding and the protection of native resources, our engagement with tribes is dynamic and robust. that commitment is embodied in the program covering areas like community policing, substance abuse, correction alternatives, and violence against women, just to name a few. since 2010, the department has awarded more than 1,400 grants totaling over $620 million to hundreds of tribal communities.
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i refer you to my written statement for more specific examples of our successes in indian country. many tribal communities have made great progress, very often by adapting traditional methods to challenges. but as this committee is well aware the challenges remain considerable. american indians and alaska natives continue to be victimized at high and sometimes alarming rates. pattern still too often hamper investigations and impede justice and resources remain scarce. report by the tribal law and order commission noted the need for almost 3,000 tribal law enforcement officers, a 50% staffing shortfall. that's why the resources requested in the president's budget are vital. the budget allocates almost $300 million for public safety activities in indian country. this level of funding would be historic and it would allow us to build on our progress and make in roads into solving the enduring and intractable problems faced by our tribal partners.
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for one thing the budget would take a page to dedicate specific funding to tribal specific initiatives. a flexible tribal grant 7% set aside for programs for my office would give tribes reliable access to $111 million in grant resources. this would remove some of the unpredictability and anxiety around competition for federal funding for which underresourced tribes are often at a distinct disadvantage. the president's budget proposes to make targeted investments as well. $25 million from the crime victims fund would be devoted to meeting the needs of native american victims who remain chronically underserved. funds from the department's office of commune oriented policing services would help hire law enforcement officers and train and equip them to protect their communities. and $56 million for the office of violence against women would support a variety of efforts aimed at reducing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assaults, sex trafficking, and stalking in
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indian country. a portion of those funds would expand on a groundbreaking program that's reversed decades of injustice by giving tribes the authority to adjudicate domestic violence, dating violence and protection against violence cases against indian -- non-indian defendants on tribal lands. the justice department's work extends well beyond funding. our u.s. attorney's offices have established close working relationships with twoo tribes and an active subcommittee on native american issues composed of u.s. attorneys provides advice and counsel to the attorney general. we are training tribal prosecutors and are bringing them hon to support prosecutors in federal court. in all these efforts we coordinate our efforts closely with our federal partners to make sure we're maximizing resources and meeting every
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public safety need in the indian country. the department of justice is working hard across its components and across other agencies to give our tribal partners the resources they need to achieve justice in their communities, but there is no substitute for federal dollars. public safety in indian country is an investment we cannot afford to forgo. the president's budget request represents a thoughtful and comprehensive strategy for supporting tribal justice, juvenile justice and victim services. the department of justice looks forward to working with the committee to fulfill our shared responsibilities to our tribal partners and to meet our collective goal of safer tribal communities. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much for your testimony. now mr. roberts. >> good afternoon, chairman. members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. it is an honor for me to be here before you all as acting
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assistant secretary for indian affairs. i want to begin by thanking each and everyone of you on the committee for your dedication to indian country. i know that you work every day to educate your colleagues on the challenges faced by tribes and the importance of a holding trust in treaty obligations. i want to begin by reflecting on our collective work and how it has particularly with tribal leadership made a difference in indian country. in fiscal year 2008, appropriations for indian affairs was $2.29 billion. a $17 million decrease from fy 2007. budgets were shrinking for indian affairs and tribes and career employees were asked to do more with less. there's no doubt that today's budget climate remains difficult. the washington reported that the president's budget increased discretionary spending overall by less than 1%. unlike the rest of the discretionary budget, the president's budget request for indian affairs reflects a 4.9% increase. when compared with 2008 to today, indian affairs proposed
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budget of $2.9 billion, nearly $138 million increase over fy 16, i think we can collectively agree that strong bipartisan support for budgets is there to foster self-determination in strong tribal communities. the increase in appropriations and successes in indian country is due in large part to the work of tribal leaders. since 2008 our career staff has decreased by approximately 1,600 employees. that's nearly 17% of indian affairs workforce. but we've seen that whether it is a direct service tribe or whether it is a self-governance tribe, tribal leadership has proven that with increased funding they can deliver results. we've seen it in the reduction of violent crime through focused resources in certain communities. we've seen it in the reduction of recidivism and we're seeing progress in the hawaii program. the president's proposed budget bills on indian country's work in careful coordination with the
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tribes. the president's budget again includes full funding for contract support costs and proposes that it be mandatory funding beginning in fy 18. the '17 budget proposed $21 million increase to support objectives, including $12.3 million for social services, $3.4 million increase for indian child welfare act programs and an addition $1.7 million to improve access to suitable housing. also to promote safe communities at the outset to remove the environment that builds barriers for our native youth and adults. it includes investments in education through scholarships through united states technical colleges and technical universities. it proposes a $1.1 billion budget for bie. the bie is focused on serving as a capacity builder and service provider to support tribes and schools and educating their youth and delivering a world class and culturally appropriate education across indian country. budget proposes full funding of
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tribal grants support costs for tribes that choose to operate bie funded schools to serve their students. finally, budget provides $138 million for education construction programs to replace and repair schools and facilities in poor condition. and to address deferred maintenance needs at the 183 campuses in the bie school system. the 17 request for bie school construction continues with the fy 16 appropriation and provides funding stability necessary to develop an orderly construction pipeline. the president's budget continues the funding in fy 16 for the indian energy service center. center will expedite leasing, permitting and reporting for conventional and renewable energy projects on indian lands and provide resources to ensure development occurs safely and manages risks appropriately. the department is working with tribes to promote cooperative management. the president's budget requests $2 million increase to address subsistence management in alaska.
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funding will target areas across the state that promote tribal management for wildfire life and assistance on federal lands and waters. i guess i will close by saying in this difficult fiscal climate, the fy '17 budget proposes increases for indian affairs at nearly $138 million above the '16 enacted levels. indian affairs is the second-largest total requested budget increase of any bureau within the department of interior. i know with your bipartisan support and leadership, the federal budget for indian country will continue to foster self-determination. i'm happy to appear before you today and i'm happy to answer any questions that you may have. >> thank you very much. miss ramirez. thank you very much for your partnership over the years and for this opportunity to discuss the 2017 budget request. specifically its proposed investments in native american, alaska native and native hawaiian communities.
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native american people hold a special place in our country's history. they've made lasting contributions to every aspect of our nation's life. our commerce, our culture, our character, and more. the sad truth is that far too many members of this community face significant barriers to decent and affordable housing. studies show that native people are more than three times as likely to live in overcrowded conditions. i witnessed these challenges firsthand when i traveled to the pine ridge reservation in south dakota. i met families who were struggling to get by. when i asked them what one thing would make their lives better, a young girl from the community said -- a house. she wanted to know why her family couldn't find a decent place to rent, a place that she could call home. she explained that she has lived her entire life with her extended family in the small overcrowded house and that her mother has been on a housing waiting list for nearly a decade. in her tribal community and in many others, it is all too
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common to see three or four families living together in a single overcrowded home. she clearly recognized what we all do -- that safe, affordable housing provides the foundation that every american needs to achieve their dreams. we've requested $700 million for the indian housing block grant program. the largest single source of funding for affordable housing under the native american housing assistance and self-determination act. we expect this 8% funding h increase to support block grants to 567 tribes in 34 states. hud also requests $5.5 million for the indian housing loan guarantee program to assist native americans across the income spectrum in buying a home and building wealth. we want to help local leaders surround this housing with the assets that every community needs to thrive, such as jobs, roads, and infrastructure. so we're seeking $80 million for the indian community development block grant program, an increase of $20 million, to spark economic development in tribal
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lands. i saw the impact of this funding during a recent visit with a tribe in arizona. the tribe leveraged ihbg and icdbg funds to finance and build 122 new affordable housing units, including elderly housing and a community park in the town of guadalupe. we want opportunity to reach every segment of society, whether they are young or elderly, a family, or a veteran returning from service overseas. that's why our request honors the president's commitment to native american youth by dedicating $20 million to further generation indigenous, a government-wide initiative to improve the lives and
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opportunities for native youth. it is also why we're working to ensure that every veteran has a home. i thank members for this committee for helping create the tribal hud administration to help brave native-americans who served our country and are now experiencing homelessness. hud and the va awarding $5.9 million in rental assistance to 26 tribes to assist 500 veterans. hud is working closely with the va and tribal partners to ensure that this demonstration succeeds in indian country. and in fy 2017, hud requests $7 million to renew tribal hud. we recognize the right of indian self-determination and tribal self-governance and we have fostered relationships that provide tribes the flexibility to design and implement housing programs according to their local needs and customs. we strongly support the reauthorization. the tribes have made great tribes even in their challenging environments. hud looks forward to working with this committee and this congress on this vital piece of legislation. finally, hud's fy 2017's budget represents the administration's
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strong commitment to indian country and recognizes the positive results that have been achieved through our native american programs. we are proud of the strong and growing capacity that our tribal partners have demonstrated, including our limited resources to work and in increasing their ability to leverage federal dollars. thank you again for the invitation to discuss our budget proposal. i look forward to the conversation today. >> thank you, miss ramirez. miss smith. >> good afternoon, chairman. thanks so much for this opportunity today. i'm mary smith, principal deputy director of the indian health service. i have only been in my job as principal deputy director for a little over a week, although i have been at the agency for slightly longer, i served approximately five months in the role of deputy director.
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it has become quite clear to me that while the ihs is firmly committed to the mission of providing quality health care for american indians and alaska natives, we face steep operational and quality of care challenges. this situation is unacceptable. i to want to thank this committee. i know it was little over a month ago this committee held an oversight committee on the indian health service, and we appreciate the opportunity and leadership that you've shown to shine a light on these issues. i firmly believe that if we are not talking about them, then we are not addressing them. i appear before you today to underscore my commitment to fixing these challenges, including those in the great plains and the more systemic issues we face as an agency such as staffing and housing. we are committed to fixing these
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issues not simply in the short term but so that the changes are sustainable over time. i and the rest of the team at ihs am committed to creating a culture of quality, leadership and accountability. it is far from business as usual at the indian health service. with that preamble, i'm pleased to provide testimony on the president's proposed fy 2017 budget for ihs which will allow us to continue to make a difference in addressing our agency mission to raise the physical, mental, social and spiritual health of american indians and alaska natives. i am committed to working with our partners and including this committee to provide access to quality health care to native americans. the fy 2017 president's budget proposed to increase the total ihs program budget to $6.6 billion, which will add $402 million to the nq 2016 enacted level, and if appropriated, this funding level would represent a
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53% increase in funding for the indian health service since fy 2008. the overall funding increases proposed in the president's budget are consistent with tribal pry orties and will continue to address long-standing health disparities among alaska natives and americans indians. specific investments include expanding behavioral and mental health services, improving health care quality, capacity, and workforce, supporting self-determination by fully funding contract support costs, and ensuring health care access through addressing critical health care facility infrastructure needs. the president's budget proposal includes funding for pay cost, inflation and population growth increases that are critical to maintaining the budgets of our ihs and tribal hospitals. the budget includes program
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increases of $49 million, of which $46 million will be focused on critical behavioral health services, including generation indigenous substance abuse and suicide prevention projects to increase the number of child and adolescent behavioral professionals. continued integration between medical behavioral health and tribal community organizations. and domestic violence prevention programming. i'm pleased to report that the budget includes a new proposal. it is a two-year mandatory proposal to address mental and behavioral health. this proposal includes a new $15 million tribal crisis response fund which would allow ihs to expeditiously assist tribes experiencing behavioral health crises, and an additional $10 million to increase the number of behavioral health professionals through the american indians and to psychology program and i. s scholarships and loan repayment program. the budget also includes funds for infrastructure that is critical to health care delivery and to fund newly constructed facilities.
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i do want to acknowledge that we are working aggressively to address quality of care issues at all three of our facilities in the great plains area. omaha, winnebago, rosebud and pine ridge. challenges there are long standing, especially around recruitment and retention of providers, but the deficiencies cited by cms are unacceptable. we have an intense effort under way right now and we have deployed commission officers from throughout hhs and the acting deputy secretary is convening an executive council on quality that will bring to bear all the resources of the department to assist ihs. we have also established a new deputy position to focus on quality of care. we look forward to working in partnership with you to enact the president's budget, and i just want to emphasize that we take these challenges to delivering high quality care
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very seriously and you have my commitment that we will work tirelessly to make meaningful, measurable progress. >> thank you, miss smith. >> chairman and members of the committee, on behalf of the national congress of american indians i'd like to thank you for holding this important hearing. federal budget for indian programs is one of the key measures of how and whether the federal government is fulfilling its travel responsibility to travel governments. respect for travel self-determination is essential to meet the basic public needs of our citizens due to historical under funding, inconsistent federal budgets and recent fluctuations in federal funding tribes have faced great needs for their citizens. many more recommendations have been developed in the fy 2017 indian budget request and we ask the document be entered into the record. overall we appreciate the cross agency coordination on this budget request and encourage congress to recognize that the budgetary needs of indian country must be addressed across federal agencies to be successful. it is not enough to boost funding for education and public
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safety without also addressing the need for housing for teachers and law enforcement personnel. a great example of collaboration is the tawahi initiative which is a pilot program that addresses family and community well-being. we have to tackle the interrelated problems of poverty, violence, substance abuse and unemployment in indian country in a holistic manner. we have seen tremendous progress in the last few years and the congress' support for indian country and self-determination in the federal budget. fy 2016 omnibus included substance amitriptyline increases for via, ibe and other
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core travel government programs that we are hopeful that the fy 2017 budget will build upon and those investments made in indian country. though tribes have made some progress, there are key examples of egregiously underfunded services. i am appalled by what happened in flint. over 200 of my members in my tribe were affected by this. i'm glad that congress and the rest of the nation is paying closer attention to what can happen when community infrastructure breaks down. i'm equally appalled that no one is paying enough attention to the infrastructural needs in indian country which lag far behind the rest of the country. our citizens have been living under comparable conditions for decades with no plan for addressing the infrastructural problems in indian country. i ask you to consider this when the u.s. commission on civil rights issues its updated report on the quiet crisis later this year.
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this independent bipartisan commission is undertaking a congressionally requested review of the federal funding that of unmet needs and obligations in indian country. we call on congress to consider that long-term prioritization of core travel programs is necessary to reverse the trends and underfunding that have long standing detrimental impacts on the nation's first people. dia provides the core travel for services such as law enforcement and travel courts, indian child welfare, social services, education, roads and energy development. ncia urges congress to adopt at least the 5% increase for the budget to counteract the historical underfunding of this agency. fy 2013 funding has increased by about 24%. we are grateful for that. but when adjusted for inflation, the fy 2016 enacted level is below the fy 2003 level by 5%. ihs faces major funding disparities as well compared to other federal health care programs. the administration's budget proposes an 8% increase for ihs overall for a total of $5.2 billion. we're grateful for that. yet ihs travel budget suggested $2 billion to maintain current services and provide for areas in preventative and behavioral medicine. this would be a great step
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towards meeting the $30 billion overall need in ihs. lastly, i want to address a few of the legislative proposals in the fy '17 budget request that we want the agency to consider to support. reclassification of contract support costs as mandatory which we've worked on. permanently authorizing the special diabetes program for indians. including language in appropriations bills or passing legislation in these areas would provide great benefits for indian country. congress must answer the moral and legal call to action so native peoples can look forward to forward prosperity and progress for future generations. tribes exercise self-determination, success stories abound. we need partnership to pass a federal budget in the indian country that reflects and hon norps the trust responsibility of the united states. thank you and i'm happy to answer any questions that you may have. >> thank you very much. appreciate your comments.


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