tv Secretary of State Blinken Testifies on 2022 Budget CSPAN August 12, 2021 8:01pm-10:11pm EDT
row seat to democracy. >> secretary of state antony blinken testifies on president biden's 2022 budget for the state department. he also took questions on diversity and personal objectives at his agency. the house appropriations subcommittee hearing ran just over two hours. >> good morning everyone. the subcommittee on appropriations and related programs will come to order. i would like to start by welcoming our distinguished guest for the first time before our subcommittee. secretary antony blinken. he is only virtual, we must address a few housekeeping matters first. for today's meeting, the chair or staff designated by the chair may use the microphone when they are not under recognition for purposes of eliminating inadvertent background noise.
members are responsible for muting and un-muting themselves. if i notice you have not unmute it yourself, i will ask you if you would like to -- like the staff to unmute you. if you indicate approval by nodding, our staff will meet your microphone. all members and witnesses, the five minute clock still applies during q&a. if there's a technology issue come up will move to the next member until the issue is resolved, and you will retake the balance of your time. you will notice the clock on your screen that will show how much time is remaining. a one minute remaining, the clock will turn yellow. at 30 seconds remaining, i may gently tap the gavel or raise my pen to remind members that their time is almost expired. when your time is expired, the clock will turn red and i will begin to recognize the next
member. i asked the panel after their test my we will follow the order of recognition set forth in the house rules, beginning with the chair and ranking member, the members present at the time the hearing is constant will be recognized in order of seniority. members not present at the time the hearing is called. house rules require me to remind you that we have set up an email address to which members can send anything they wish to submit in writing at any of our hearings. that email address has been provided in advance to your staff. once again, let me welcome our secretary of state antony blinken. secretary blinken, our country is truly fortunate to have your respected leadership at the helm of the state department.
especially during this time of tremendous of people. thank you for your service to our country and for being here today. what my priorities as chair is finding new ways to better engage the american public and global affairs, especially communities and people who have historically been disconnected and marginalized from foreign. this beginnings with making sure -- this begins with making sure congress is able to play its full role in policy -- foreign policy decision-making. in our conversation, you expressed your desire to make the state department more open and accountable to congress. it is still early in your tenure, but i have been very pleased to see clear evidence of your efforts, and look forward to working with you more on this effort, which is critical to ensure we have a foreign policy that reflects the values and
priorities of all americans. today's hearing will provide members of our subcommittee a timely opportunity to hear directly from you how diplomacy and foreign systems can effectively be utilized to require the -- meet the growing challenges around the world. bring the covid 19 pandemic to a close, which includes the distribution of vaccines and helping the developing world recover from the pandemics devastating impacts. i'm eager to hear the latest on the administration's efforts to make vaccines available in low and middle income countries. one of my priorities as chair is eliminating a long-standing barrier to diversity that exists in our foreign affairs workforce and the perpetrate a system where minorities and women are chronically underrepresented.
i know you share this goal. recent appointment of ambassador -- achieve inclusion officer is a positive step. previous secretaries of state did not respectively tackle the structural barriers to diversity at the state department. i'm anxious to hear how you will hold yourself and the rest of the building accountable to finally breaking through and putting in place long-standing and effective solutions. i'm also eager to discuss the administration's approach to traditionally under prioritized regions of the world, including sub-saharan africa and the caribbean. i'm also concerned about the lack of action on -- has not had the level priority i have expected. we need to turn the page from previous administrations policies and return to engagement and dialogue to resolve our differences.
what i have seen so far is the opposite. especially i'm anxious to know the rationale for -- the last meant listing of cuba as a state sponsor terrorism by the trump administration. mr. secretary the recent outbreak of conflict between israelis and palestinians was deeply concerning. i want to thank you for your work to achieving the cease-fire. the last four years have been difficult for the palestinian people, previous administrations -- administration's cruel policies resulted in closed missions, and unprecedented levels of mistrust and resentment toward american involvement in the middle east amongst the palestinian people, setting back of our cause for a two state solution.
i appreciate the president's commitment to restarting that to the palestinians. to support freedom and security for israelis and palestinians. fiscal year 2020 and 2021 included humanitarian assistance and development programs in the west bank and gaza which were passed without controversy or partisan debate. your request proposes $218 million for this. i believe we can and should do more. renewing diplomatic focus to the triangle countries. during the previous initiation not only says back from addressing the root causes of migration, it caused critical credibility needed to make progress on human rights,
economic opportunity, combating corruption and upholding the rule of law. before committing to a four-year and for billion-dollar plan which includes $860 million this year, congress needs to understand how we will measure progress and ensure long-lasting impacts, particularly on fighting combating corruption and impunity in the region. the biden administration budget also includes a commitment to rejoin america's standing in the world, a robust communication with the united nations, funding for the world health organization among other international organizations. i fully support efforts to reinvigorate our multilateral partnership so we are better positioned to tackle today's global challenges in the global 19 -- the covid 19 pandemic to climate change. i am also disappointed that over the last four years, the united
states did not pay its full united nations peacekeeping assessment. we have accrued over $1 billion in arrears. i'm fully committed to partnering with the administration on meeting our annual assessed payment, paying down our united nations arrears and putting in place a realistic solution that prevents this type of staggering dereliction of responsibility behind us again. we have much to discuss today, i want to thank you on behalf of the american people, your leadership and dedication, i hope this is the first of many discussions between you and the subcommittee. i look forward to your test my. i would like to yield to the ranking member for his opening statement. >> thank you madam chair.
we want to thank you for being able to be with us to answer questions about your budget request for fiscal 22. each time a secretary of state comes to testify before the subcommittee, i reflect upon the seemingly endless challenges and complex problems the secretary of state must address on any given day. this year in particular stands out, given the number of crises around the world, testing our country's foreign policy. sec., you have your work cut out for you. we will helping way we can. we thank you for being willing to answer our questions. the request for physical 2022 --
fiscal year 2022 is 1.6 billion dollars. that is almost 12% more than fiscal year 2021. while i oppose the sweeping cuts to the state department put forward by the previous administration, i'm concerned about the magnitude of the increase being proposed in this request. i intend to give it fair consideration, it will be difficult to justify given our country's unprecedented deficits and debt. increases in the president's budget on non-defense programs -- at the expense of our military. i hope the committee will carefully consider the potential consequences for these kinds of allocations.
mr. secretary, i'm a well aware this pre--- this budget request has some -- there are a number of things i applaud in your proposal. for israel's foreign military financing, $3.3 billion. i was pleased to learn the administration supports funding to replenish the and other systems that are essential to preventing mass casualties in israel from hamas rocket attacks last month. i'm pleased to see we maintain the conditions for egypt.
they were given credit for their role in helping to end the recent conflict and your productive meeting with president lcc. -- with the president. if it is maintained at current levels, then the two previous initiations, you can count on my support and remaining ever vigilant [indiscernible] i also support increased funding to counter chinese influence. unfortunately, the environmental policies and projects in the budget were significantly disadvantage the united states against china. under the deeply flawed pairs agreement, [indiscernible]
i would also like to bring up cuts proposed to the budget for columbia, to potential partners that need our support now more than ever. i'm concerned what we -- [indiscernible] other international organizations. we will band a efforts at reform while doubling on the funding. the unprecedented actions against israel and the human rights council and -- in belarus the world health organizations are two recent examples [indiscernible] these international their
concern -- before i close, i want you to know i take the oversight of your department very seriously, and have for the last 36 years. i plan to work with the inspector general and hope you will too, especially in addressing chronic management challenges at your agency that persist year after year. to that and, i was pleased to learn that the position of deputy secretary for man u -- management and resources was finally filled. hallelujah. it has been a long crusade. mr. secretary, you have seen the wisdom of that position at the department needed someone advanced levels to focus on managing operations and
assistance. [indiscernible] i spoke with deputy secretary mccann shortly after he came on the job, i look forward to staying in touch with him as we go along. thanking the men and women of your department. as well as a locally employed staff advancing american leadership abroad. i support your dedication, and your sacrifices are appreciated on both sides of the aisle. you would communicate well with the subcommittee, this is a good start. inc. you for being here. i yield back. >> thank you very much. i do not see that share of our appropriations committee -- if
they attend, we will stop and yield to them for any questions. sec., i know that you share a goal of addressing long-standing failures to diversify the state department workforce. ultimately, it is an issue of institutional accountability as to how you're are going to hold yourself accountable for making real progress on this issue, more specifically more employees now and in the next three to six months. i know, some members of this committee know how long we've been trying to get the state department to address racial equity, gender equity and inclusion. there are decisions that may need to be performed, but also
we need accountability measures in place to make sure the strategy for targeting underrepresented minorities and women in that everything the state department does, that we move forward. can you share some of your specific ideas? >> [indiscernible] >> let me say what a pleasure it is to be with you and the other members of this committee. i'm happy to submit my opening statement to the record, if that is what you prefer. >> i'm sorry, go ahead and give your opening statement. if -- >> thank you very much, i appreciate it. it is a pleasure to be with you. i appreciate this opportunity to
talk about the administration psycho proposed budget, and how will help achieve our national security priorities and deliver results for the american people, which is our common objective. i think this is a critical moment for the united states and are leadership -- our leadership. we face major testing clean stopping covid-19, rising to the challenge of the support of local economic recovery. we have to revitalize our lives and partnerships, outcompete china, and defend the international will based order against those who seek to undermine it, renew democratic values at home and abroad and pushback against at activity by adversaries. more competitive role, other countries are making historic investments in their foreign policy. we need to do the same. that is why in this budget we requested $58.5 billion for the state department for fiscal year
2022. it is $58.5 billion. let me give you some specifics about how we plan to spend these funds, if you support them. the budget will strengthen global health, the united states has been the leader in this field for decades in africa, at around the world. we are asking for $10 million -- $10 billion including $1 billion for global health security to respond to future health crises so we can stop outbreaks before they turn into pandemics that endanger our safety and prosperity. the global response the climate crisis, $1.25 billion for climate funds to help developing countries implement climate
adaptation and emissions programs which is in our interest. the budget would -- the fight for democracy, which is under threat into main places. the budget request includes $2.8 billion in foreign assistance to advance human rights, fight correction, stem the tide of democratic -- strengthen and defend democracies. for example, support for independent media. it also requests $300 million -- to address the root causes of migration for central america. we will invest in the region as a first step, $4 billion to help prevent violence, expand jobs and educational opportunities. it will reestablish american umana terrien leadership with a
request for $10 billion in assistance to support refugees, victims of conflict, other displaced people and to rebuild , our refugee admissions program. it will support our partners in the middle east by fully funding our commitment to those countries, including israel and jordan and by restoring humanitarian assistance to the palestinian people. eight includes a budget request of $3.6 billion to pay contributions of the to international organizations and peacekeeping efforts, including to restore our annual contributions to the world health organization. as china and others work hard to bend organizations to their worldview, we need to ensure these organizations remain grounded in the values, principles, and rules of the world that made our shared progress possible for some eight decades. finally to deliver in all these , areas, the budget reinvests and our most vital asset -- our -- in our most vital asset, our people.
it will provide new resources to recruit and retain a diverse global workforce, with nearly 500 additional civil service positions. the largest increase in a decade. it will modernize our technology and cybersecurity, ejector embassies and consulates, and include a direct appropriation of $320 million for services their wide second continue to provide private services to americans and those who seek to travel, study or do business with the united states. our national security depends not only on the strength of our armed forces, but also our ability to conduct. that is how we solve global challenges. with cooperation, advance our interests and values, protect our people and prevent crises overseas from turning into emergencies here at home. that is why diplomacy and development are smart investments for american taxpayers. a top priority for me as secretary is to restore the traditional role of congress as a partner in our foreign policy
making. that is the spirit that i printed today's conversation. i'm grateful for the opportunity and the chance to answer your questions. >> thank you, mr. secretary. i want to reiterate i will be calling on members by seniority when that hearing was called to order, alternating between majority and minority members, i will recognize remaining members in the order of their appearance. each member is asked to keep their questions to five minutes. secretary blinken, you heard my first question prematurely. i would love to hear your response. >> making sure we have a workforce that looks like the country it represents is a top priority for me. i have said publicly and privately that i would consider a measure of the success or not of how i am in the job whether
we succeed in playing them place a stronger foundation to have that workforce that looks like this country. you noted that we appointed the first chief diversity and inclusion officer. that is an important gauge of the -- let me speak briefly to the challenge at large, it including the -- yeah including the mandate of the office. we will tackle this and comprehensive way. starting with work that needs to be done before anyone gets near the doors of c street, that is with recruitment. that has to start earlier then it does. in part by opening minds, especially in traditionally underserved communities, a representative of the department, to the possibility of a career serving the country and our foreign policy. engaging even more.
and more effectively with high schools, colleges, universities, especially those with diverse populations. that is going to start with me, and be an expectation of the team across the board. second, once people get into the c street doors, that is not enough. the problem we've had is we bring people in and they leave. we have a serious retention problem. that starts with the need to have genuine inclusion. this can't be a check the box numbers game, it goes fundamentally to the culture of the department and the way we understand and act on the different challenges that our colleagues coming from different backgrounds and different communities may face and many of us may not fully understand or appreciate. that is were to be part of the work of the office of the chief diversity officer, to help us better understand that and incorporate that into the training.
third, i think you're going to see appointments we make to senior positions a better reflection of the diversity of our country. it is important that people can have -- if they are not seeing colleagues who come from the same backgrounds or communities that they do, that vision is not going to be there and they won't stick it out. we need to have accountability. one of the things i've asked the chief diversity and inclusion officer to do report directly to me as secretary, we are going to have numbers, analysis, understanding, aggregate data in ways we have not in the past so we can understand and show whether in fact we are making
progress in having a genuinely diverse department. the last thing on this, our strength, a cliche but it's true, our greatest strength as a country is in our diversity. that is true why comes for foreign policy. we are dealing with an incredibly diverse world. as the ranking member said, multiplicity and complexity of the challenges we face has never been greater. we would penalize ourselves not to have full partnership in our foreign policy, a true reflection of the diversity of our country. we are much better at engaging the world when we have that. i'm determined that we show real , sustainable progress. i think we are putting in the place -- developing a five-year plan for those that we will
share with you, that will be ready in the weeks ahead. >> mr. secretary, i appreciate that. i really do want to work with you on it. also, know that i want to see something in three months, six months. this is a long-standing issue. your plan is great, we have to have benchmarks throughout the five years. we cannot wait that long to have a state department that reflects the country. in the aspirations of people who want to enhance our president. i would like to yield to our ranking member. >> mr. secretary, the departments request -- department's request for the u.n. and other national organizations includes --
international organizations includes -- it includes costs associated with your plan to rejoin several international organizations, to pay arrears and peacekeeping dues above the statutory rate of 25%, a cap that has not been changed by congress since it was negotiated during your time at the senate foreign relations committee. a little over a week ago, the u.n. system demonstrated why there is so much skepticism and concern about continued investments in the absence of significant reform, from top to bottom. on may try seven, the u.n. human rights council took the unprecedented step to open an investigation against israel for alleged war crimes.
you are asking for resources that will fund that. the american taxpayers right -- has a right to be outraged. one day later, on may 20, syria and belarus were elected to the world health organization's executive board. a murderous regime and a desperate dictator are part of the government's structure on the world health organization. as if the list of problems of the organization was not long enough. they call for boat and voiced objections, they did nothing. until the deal was done. your administration has acknowledged the deep flaws that many of these organizations come
up way propose the united states rejoin with payment in an effort to make change and seek better results. how can we believe you that you will be able to make or even attempt to make real changes at these organizations when we just witnessed a failure to act on such an important matter? >> i appreciate the question. i do think that repaying our arrears in trying to be current is very important in these organizations, because it goes directly to our ability to have influence. when we are not paying up, we are listened to last. it goes to their operations, their ability to do the job in ways that advance our own interests. we can come back to that. with regard to the human rights council and the world health
organization, it is our judgment that we stand a much better chance of advancing the important reforms that both need , i strongly concur, but if we were at the table instead of outside the room. when we are not at the table, someone else's. you alluded to -- our ability to advance meaningful reform to shape the way these organizations work is gone. with regard to the human rights council, we are going to be a candidate for membership for 2022 to 2024. last time we were in the room, at the table, we were much more effective in dealing with the bias against israel and one-sided action that the human rights council takes to single out israel unfairly. we cut by 30% the number of such issues when we were there. we are not there, these things tend to proliferate.
with regard to the world health organization, we stand a much better chance of advancing the reforms that are needed if we are there, making good on our commitments, and insisting it make good on its responsibilities. >> mr. rogers, can you unmute? >> hello? >> now you're on. >> if i could ask for another minute? i didn't hear you. >> yes, go ahead. >> thank you. mr. secretary, i was pleased to see the president's budget request 19 the current level funding for egypt, because they
are a critical partner in the middle east. u.s. egypt relationship is complicated, but works. i was in cairo meeting with the president when the true church bombings happened on palm sunday in 2017. sometimes i think the real terrorist threats they face their and continue to face -- the president recently, following the cease-fire between israel and hamas, tells about the role egypt played in helping to end the recent conflict and your view of the u.s. egyptian relationship. >> egypt played a vital role in getting the cease-fire. i do not think it would've happened without their engagement. it is a simple as that.
something we have both appreciated and applauded publicly. it also played an important role in middle east stability, counterterrorism, we have important defense cooperation that focuses on border challenges, counterterrorism, and isis in the region, is wedged between israel and egypt and the sinai, and poses a significant challenge, egyptian forces are losing several people a week in his effort to deal with it. egypt is a vital partner in many ways. we do have real concerns about human rights. i had a lengthy conversation with the president about that, a direct and honest exchange. i would say come up with that with human rights defenders. we have seen some progress in some areas, particularly
religious freedom as well as gender-based violence, trafficking, we appreciate that. of the other hand, why comes to freedom of expression, civil society, there are significant problems we need to address directly with our egyptian partners. and we are. we hope and expect to see progress there as we sustain this partnership that is vital to our security. >> can you unmute, mr. rogers? >> i'm sorry. >> thank you. i now yield to ms. may. >> thank you, mr. secretary for coming to testify, congratulations.
we are thrilled that you're here in this role, and look forward to working with you on a host of issues. and to work to ensure that the money our committee appropriates is put to the best possible use and equitably distributed through programs that lift up those were the most vulnerable in the world. for artist -- my district in queens, new york, why the most diverse in the country, foreign policy is not just an esoteric issue, solving faraway problems, but many of mice constituents have strong family and business ties to their countries of origin, and many of their families directly benefit from our foreign assistance. my first question is about divided families. there are thousands of korean americans who were separated from their families in north korea by war.
americans have lived without knowing whether their spouses, children or grandchildren are still alive, while there have been over 20 opportunities for divided families to have reunions in the prk, not of these reunions have actually included korean americans. as well as other international organizations have committed to helping facilitate the inclusion of korean americans in these reunions. time is running out as these family members age into their 80's and 90's, can you update us on how you manage hearing issues such as this will be included in any talks at any levels with our allies and soul or with the dprk , we need a special envoy on north korean human rights. the former president did not appoint a to this position, which was a mistake.
should we expect the nominee for this role? >> in answer to your second question, yes, you can. we are moving forward on that. the challenges with betting -- vetting facing slower than they should be. with regards family reunification, i'm deeply sensitive to the issue and appreciate everything you said. at the end of the day, so much of what we do comes down to real human beings, this is just heart-wrenching, knowing that people have been not only separated but do not know the fate of their loved ones. what i can pledge is that we will work on this, including with our south korean partners to make sure that the interest
of korean americans who have been separated from families are reflected in the efforts we make and that are made. it is challenging, we do not know what kind of engagement we are going to get from the dprk, thank you for putting a light on this issue. >> thank you. i do not have much time, i wanted to address the international affairs budget, which supports funds for gender equality and equity. it is $200 million check would -- gender equity action fund is the only amount specified. given the wide swath of issues, do you think that is sufficient, and how would the proposed gea funds complement other accounts that lead to advanced global gender equity. -- global gender equity? >> we are working through a
variety of programs and approaches that hopefully will complement each other. we have significant work we will be doing reflected in the budget on combating gender-based violence, which is gotten worse under covid, for reasons you know. we are trying to make sure we have an emphasis on women, peace and security, working to support the participation and empowerment and decision-making of women in peace and security issues. we have this proposed gender equity action fund that we are seeking support for in the budget to promote economic empowerment, to help deal with gender-based violence and support some of the underserved operations. also some of the areas where there's disproportionate impact on women and girls, notably the pandemic, climate change, conflict.
if this budget is approved, we are resourced appropriately with technology, we find there are some things we can do more efficiently than before. if there are specific areas or ideas that you think we should be pursuing, i welcome the opportunity to talk about that and make sure they are resourced appropriately. >> i yield back. >> i yield now to -- >> let me bring us to venezuela. i do not have to tell you they continue to violate human rights, political prisoners are still held in captivity, there is a lack of democratic institutions, free and fair expression.
my to believe -- and i to believe that those factors and others mean that you will continue to support sanctions against the regime in venezuela? >> the short answer is yes. not only are we continuing to support sanctions, but we want to try to work as effectively as possible with others to bring them along in increasing the pressure on maduro and the regime. >> that is good to hear. you are aware -- the same positions i just mentioned and venezuela, the sanctions, execs
-- existing cuba, are you aware of and those in cuba? and therefore, why would we not be supporting sanctions the regime, on top of having the same conditions they have spread their influence in other parts of the hemisphere, including -- i'm assuming the answer will be the same, correct? >> when comes to cuba, this is a policy we are reviewing very carefully. as part of that review, we are seeking the views including you yours and others of congress, other stakeholders, different perspectives on the issue, whether dissing congress, faith-based leaders, academic experts, inside and outside of cuba. we are focused on trying to make sure we -- the best way to advance the bowls we share,
which is if we and democratic -- >> the same conditions in venezuela applied to cuba, more so? >> their differences and specifics, but the overall concerns we have with regard to the absence of democracy in venezuela and in cuba, yes. >> i do not see how one can say that conditions exist in venezuela, and also aiden cuba and worse and longer, but then why say one merit sanctions and the other does not? cuba has thousands of -- something to consider. i want to thank you for providing the democracy assistance to cuba, something needed at this time. you talked about your budget
supports democracy programs. i'm concerned and disappointed that less than $13 million was requested, thus nearly seven millions -- $7 million less than what was provided in 2021. we have massive increases in other areas, yet specifically targeting ocd, i'm concerned about why is the regime in cuba treated differently than other places around the world, including in this hemisphere. i'm concerned about that. >> i will take a look at that. across the board, we are trying to make sure we are as effective
as we can be, particularly in these programs. we have other tools and resources that can hopefully help achieve some of the same results, for example, we are asking for additional resources that have been effective in rooting out misinformation and disinformation, to include things coming from cuba and other antidemocratic sources. we welcome hearing from you as to what you think we can do more effectively. >> i look forward to working with you. the democracy assistance program is a priority. i yield back. >> i yield to mr. price. >> welcome, mr. secretary.
we appreciate your good work thus far. i want to express support for many items in a strong budget, including assistance for democratic governments around the world. i have a special -- by chairing the bipartisan commission that engages with governments in emerging democracies to learn from one another, to build their democratic institutional capacities. i sure you're aware that democratic government debt assistance -- get democratic government assistance leads directly to our attempts to improve their capacity. it means this is not just parliamentary exchanges. on the ground, we are able to work to constantly improve performance and enhance
professional capabilities. we welcome the increase for democratic governance, it does lead me to a couple of questions with countries that we have engaged with, and for very different reasons engagement has become more difficult recently. i'm speaking of burma and afghanistan. let me ask you about the military to improve -- in burma. it has effectively removed the country from international parliamentary engagement. i support the sanctions the biden ministration has already imposed on the burmese military missions and businesses. apart from these ad hoc sanctions, what more can we do to affect the burmese villa terry officials and affiliated businesses, how offensive -- how
effective have these sanctions been already working with international partners to restrict their access to financial support, military equipment, whatever might be done? what kind of engagement you have with the national government, do you have a plan to work with them further? and how does the u.s. plan to conduct assistance programs, there are some in your budget, in ways not to benefit the military junta, not contradict what local groups have been urging, and something to address the previous government and this government the quality shared with regard to treatment of the running guy? -- the rohinga? >> we need to see an end to the
violence, we need to see prisoners released, we need to see burma return to the democratic path it was on. we have sanctioned true leaders -- coup l leaders, we've been engaged in a comprehensive review of our assistance to make sure that we can focus assistance that gets directly to people who need it, and does not get to the regime. we have export controls in place. we want to make sure we are building support for civil society, humanitarian and ethnic communities and all this in coordination with allies and partners, including aussie on. trying to get countries that have investments or other economic relationships with enterprises in burma that
directly support the military, and that depends on. if those countries reconsider those investments and relationships. we are doing some work there. we are also supporting the work that axion is doing. the regime agreed to a five-point program that starts with getting an invoice from axion to burma -- envoy from axion to burma, including the unity government and others. we are pressing to see that happens. we are engaged with the government, other members of the national unity government, other members of the now opposition, having all set all that -- said all that, this is a deeply challenging problem that is
going to require a lot of work in international coronation. your point about the rohinga, this is been a deficit of not just this regime, they were among the worst perpetrators in the past of violence against roving got and other -- rohinga and other ethnic groups. we are focused on that as well, among other things making sure that countries that have refugees of that community make good on their commitments not to forcibly send the back to barbara -- to burma where they will encounter difficult circumstances. we are working on this across-the-board, it is a hard problem. >> it certainly is. we commend your involvement. there is a need to stay the
course and figure out ways to tighten the screws. i think that is it. >> we yield to -- i believe your frozen. >> madam chair? >> that is much better. >> i apologize, i'm having broadband difficulty. thank you for joining us today. mr. secretary, let me start out by commending you for two things you said earlier, you consider congress a partner inform policy. i appreciate that, this will committee does. we are brimming with good ideas.
secondly, he talked about foreign policy ultimately about people and places, i could not agree more, ultimately human dignity. thank you for those comments. i want to address the middle east partnerships, china and the who [indiscernible] regarding the middle east peace, the ranking member mentioned egypt [indiscernible] >> you're breaking up, mr. fortenberry. >> roadmap for [indiscernible] foundation [indiscernible] this middle east partnership -- -- >> is a better now?
i was referring to that middle east for psac. they picked up the legislation, got into law, at as a part of this law, we are trying to do two things, enhance people to people programs as well as build out new forms of economic well-being, utilizing development finance -- for the benefit of palestinians and israelis. the department has a coordinating role in this regard, are you familiar with this law, how are you going to advance state department implementation, and thank you for funding it? >> in short, i am familiar with it, i support it and we intend to do what we can to move out on it. i could not agree more with the basic objectives and premise, particularly we need to use some of these new tools like the dfc,
which i think is a good development and look at ways of doing this more effectively. i welcome working with you and your office on this. it is something we support. >> i believe -- you still have a couple of minutes left. if not, let's go back to you. are you back on? >> would you mind if i try to relocate to another area and get if human it's back? thank you so much. >> we will go now to the chair. chair of our appropriations
committee. >> thank you so much. we are very excited about today's testimony and to the secretary, make you for being with us. again, first time to say thank -- congratulations and how we are excited about you and the role you are in. i have a couple questions. in the funding request for 2022, that ministration has tucked away $10 billion for global health programs. 800 million dollar increase to global health security programs. in january 2021, the ministration announced -- administration announced they would reengage with the who. the 10 billion for mobile health programs including an additional
one billion would expand the global health security agenda capacity building program. could you tell us how the funds will be used? >> thank you very much. let me just say this is an effort to build on the resources that congress has provided over the past year in response to covid 19. your leadership in trying to address near-term and long-term global health security challenges has been vitally important and is in line with the security agenda we have. i think we need to look at this in two ways. one is covid-19 itself and taking sure we are effectively prepared to hopefully prepare and at least see and mitigate and deal with more effectively the next pandemic.
a significant amount of these resources are dedicated to building that and the capacity heard in this ability to protect and mitigate. parenthetically, a senator of the name of joe biden in 2003-2004 had legislation called the global pathogen i'd -- identification act that many countries did not have in place the tools to detect the outbreak of a pathogen turning into a pandemic yard that congress today are focused on it. there is that piece. the water -- broader agenda is important to. one thing that happened is that other aspects of global health security have been significantly
compromised because of the inability to effectively deliver on services for a variety of other challenges whether it is malaria, tuberculosis, hiv-aids and so much more done the list. we want to address this and of -- deficit as well. want to build back better with our programs. >> my hope is that in light of what you said, the last portion of it, i understand that ebola zika and now coronavirus. the other piece of this is that we need to restructure our infrastructure domestically. we have to participate in a public health infrastructure worldwide as well. we do it in africa that is similar to the cdc and etc. we are not safe unless the rest of the world is safe from these
illnesses, diseases and so forth we want to work with you on that effort. i will try to get another quick question in. we got a number of crises that threaten democracies around the world. the rule of law. the budget you proposed as the need to defend democracy. extremely important. i know you are poised to play a critical role in crafting what the response as to these crisis. how will you carry that out in a way that achieves our objective while re-engaging with our allies in a way that we did not during the previous administration? >> i think from our perspective, the first order of business has been to reengage with allies and partners on a bilateral asus but also in different institutions. the challenge is twofold.
if we look at the big ticket items all have impact on the lives of people, whether it is this pandemic, climate change or the disruptive impacts of various do technologies that still shape our lives the one thing we know is that we can't deal with these challenges alone. even the u.s. with all of our power, reese's -- resources, and know-how. we benefit from coordinating with other countries to deal with these challenges. this is why our lien in on diplomacy is so important. if we are not engaged, in these very imperfect yet nonetheless important international institutions. someone else will be in our place and probably not in ways that advance our interests and values or maybe just as bad, nobody is and you will have
chaos. i think there is a premium on our engagement, diplomacy, unjust showing up. i think we are in a better place to advance these reforms. if we are actually in the room and out the table. that is the sort of premise we bring to this. we have, thankfully. if we are resource properly, the next credible resource is the state department to make shirt the u.s. is present, engaged, shaping the rules and standards that govern so much of our lives. that is what we need to be doing and we are grateful for the support we get and the budget to do it. >> thank you for indulging me and going over time. >> i will yield.
>> thank you, i appreciate it. thank you for the secretary for being here. in late march, the president supported calls for the 2021 mlb all-star game to be moved out of atlanta georgia. literally, hours later, within 72 hours, he then came out posing a boycott of the 2022 olympic games. why do you think the administration is silent when it comes to china hosting the games but outspoken one it comes to moving the all-star game out of georgia? >> let me say that one of the great benefits of my job is that i don't do auto text. -- politics. i'm not aware of the present taking that position but what i can say is this in regards to
the olympics, we are consulting with allies and partners to look at the common concerns that we have and ideally, to establish a common approach. that is what we are focused on right now. >> you have said china was a host of atrocious human rights violations i thought -- joe biden thought that by pulling out of the games that we would support voting rights. there are no voting rights in china. nancy pelosi has came out in support of a diplomatic support of the -- support of a boycott of the games. would you boycott those games in china? >> we are consulting with other concerned countries and making sure we understand their thoughts and develop a common approach that is more effective than doing something on our own.
>> you would agree in the paths when adversarial nations such as 1930's germany, they use that opportunity to invade neighboring countries. the you fear that might happen that after these games, they might in -- invade taiwan? is that a concern? we have a concern of increased aggression that the government of beijing has shown towards taiwan at whether there is a relationship or not in the olympic games, we cannot say. >> your administration has pressured corporate sponsors to drop their sponsorship. biden has pressured certain countries to drop their sponsorships over human rights
concerns. it is the same path against banks that discriminate against certain companies. this technique is not just been used on the fossil fuel industry but also on the 2022 olympic games. do tools like that be used to put pressure on china? >> as i said, i want to make sure that from where i sit and given my responsibilities, we are consulting with other concerned countries that we understand their perspectives on this. we come up with a common approach. that is what we are focused on. >> i appreciate that. i yield back. >> i will now yield to miss
>> well? >> they are trying to reconnect. >> he is waving. there he is. >> we see you, mr. secretary. >> thank you, good to have you here. i wanted to say thank you for the $3.3 billion with the support to israel. it is without condition and i believe it should be without condition. i know there will be another 500,000 in a different budget. hopefully i get to my questions in regards to education, i have
to say while i love most of your budget, i am disappointed with this aspect. in terms of reproductive rights, i know that the covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on women around the world and especially when it comes to reproductive rights and health the u.n. estimated that one year into the pandemic, 12 million women have experienced disruption in their family-planning services. what made it worse is that under the previous administration, budget puzzles would cut global health funding and president trump would further instate the gag rule that will harm women and girls. sports clinics around the world have to choose between receiving u.s. funding or giving access to
contraception, internal health care, and we know these are critical health services. i am pleased that the president is resending it. although we don't know the full impact, i know you have a small increase in bilateral family landing -- planning. i think we need much much more. my question to you is given so much of the unmet need and stuff going around the world, how do you expect we will even make a dent in this unless we put more funding into international family-planning? >> thank you. i very much appreciate the
concern. i share a lot of that concern as you rightly said. we have seen the devastating impacts of covid-19. in particular, women and girls have been harmed significantly in the same ways that others have not. i think part of the answer is we take steps to refunding the u.s. population fund. that is an important vehicle for advancing these services to people in need and to women and girls. this is a new development. one i hope will make a significant difference. >> let me get quickly to another subject which is related to the pandemic.
there were 11 million girls that may not go back to school after covid. that is really sad. your budget reduces education funding. what is the effort to get girls back in school and stay in school? it is -- >> we want to make sure there is greater and meaningful access to education. insofar as the budget goes, i think we found there are ways including with technology to do some of these things more efficiently and hopefully effectively that can also be
cost savers. we are looking to make sure we can do this in an effective way and efficient way. if you think or see particular problems that were not effectively in meeting, i welcome those. >> thank you, will do. madam chair, i we -- yield back. >> i will yield to miss >> and. >> all -- i will preface my questions and comments about mentioning i represent the largest uighur diaspora communities in the u.s.. their plight is important to me and my constituents. i want to talk about what is going on in chin john with other
turkic people. forced labor continues. i which step up the pressure on global institutions that turning a blind eye to these actions. and even genocide. another president hasn't made a decision on what to do about the games. i agree that it should not be about politics. i don't know how we can go on business as usual while the host country is committing an aside. at the very least, we should move the games and not take a full what cut the table. this is something that affects people on both sides of the isle and the world is really watching us and they will be assessing what we do going forward speaking with the uighurs, i am on a high partisan bill that
will give them priority to refugee status. as you know, it will give access to the refugee system. there are reports that china is pressuring uighur dissidents through economic pressure and threatening to withhold vaccine from the country. turkey's parliament is working on an extradition deal to exit at uighurs. is this something the state department is keeping an eye on and what are you doing to help them in this situation and work with our allies to make sure they are not susceptible to this pressure? >> in short, yes. thank you for flagging that and putting a spotlight on it. i have raised this with my turkish counterpart. we have been focused on uighurs submitted to other countries they respect the non-performance
obligations they have internationally and do not send people back to dire circumstances. i think across the board, as you know, we have worked on a course of condemnation for what the prc is doing in china. there have been joint actions and sanctions in coordination with u.k. and canada that china certainly notice of. we are focused on the best of our ability that products made with forced labor and we are working to open the eyes of other countries as well. we want to make sure none of our companies could engage in exporting other things in any way that can perpetuate the regression of uighurs or anyone else.
all of this is in the works. we continue to look for ways to bring to bear meaningful pressure on china to change its practices of repression of uighurs and other minorities. >> it seems like it is accelerating so we gotta step it up even more. i understand they have a number of resources to counter distant information -- this information -- misinformation. whatever doing to counter the propaganda machine in china? >> we have, as you know, the global engagement center which is an increasingly effective vehicle in finding and sharing on -- acting on misinformation.
whether it's from china or anyplace, is become the premier platform for sharing this information. the budget requests for the state department an important vehicle to deal with that challenge. >> i also think that radio free asia is one of the best thanks for the buck in terms of countering disinformation. i appreciate your continuing support on this. i yield back. >> i don't believe mr. thorton very -- thortonberry. his back. >> i am back.
let me cfi could do that without disruption. you are committed to this middle eastern peace act. it is critical new architecture for establishing cross -- trust and using the best private market system so thank you very much for that yet let's talk about china and the who. there is increasing concern and possibility this may have come from a lab. it looks like that was the case. a massive cover-up by china and the who. i would like to hear your perspective on this unhealthy administration is monitoring this and how china will be held accountable should they be found responsible. >> a couple things on this. back in march, the president instructed the administration to
on a whole of government basis look into what we could determine about the origins of covid-19. we had a report come back to us that basically narrowed it down to two hypotheses. it is a natural occurrence from animal to human and coming out of a lab. it was unable to conclude with any degree of confidence if either of those was the most likely. that inspired the president just recently to ask the intelligence community to again, bring in expertise from the labs from the national institutes of science. 90 days to do everything we can to determinant with any greater degree where it originated from. the second piece is who.
i think you are exactly right with regards to who and with regards to the prc government from day one, we have seen a tremendous deficit in meeting the responsibilities they should have been meeting and particularly, with regard to the government in beijing. transparency. information sharing. access for international experts. none of that happened. early on, when it could have made a difference, and now with this phase one report done by the who, we have deep reservations about the methodology used and the lack of appropriate access of information sharing. that is what the stage to report needs to go forward if it can get to the bottom of what happened. if we can't, it will make it so much more difficult to put in place the measures needed to
hopefully prevent and certainly to better deal with the next pandemic. that is also profoundly in china's interest. i think what you're seeing around the world is growing concern, focus on the need for countries starting with country to step up to their responsibilities. that is what we are looking for. that is what the international committee is insisting on. that is how we are moving forward here in the u.s. and with the who. we need and are determined to get to the bottom of this. >> accountability metrics after that, should the ugly side of this manifest itself? >> we need to have accountability. >> i yield now. >> thank you, madam chair. good to see you again,
secretary. welcome to our committee. i want to allow myself with the comments made by my colleague on israel. i will focus my question on central america. thank you for visiting the region. i hope we hear more about your trip to costa rica and the meetings in the northern triangle region. i appreciate your experience and tackling the issues in the northern triangle region. however, i must stress that we need strong experience and permanent leadership to represent our values and challenge undemocratic behavior along with partners in multilateral forms. secretary, what is the timeline
of meeting ambassadors to honduras? they have shown impressive leadership despite the challenging partnership. how do you ensure that our investors in the region are not pressured or intimidated by the government. -- government? as we have seen in the past and given el salvador's recent actions, they seem to have gone against the democratic charter, we prioritize appointing a permanent representative? >> in short, yes. we are determined to have the strongest people in place in those countries and at the oas. in regards to el salvador, as he worked on getting an ambassador, we asked and thankfully, we got someone's back in 11 or -- back
in el salvador. >> i must demand that we do better by having hopefully, her, i understand she is a true and tried leader that will do well. not on a temporary basis but that is just not acceptable. >> i agree with you. we are working as fast as weekend to get people in place. you the process, including the vetting, the confirmation process is not as fast and efficient as we all like. we are working through it with great determination. >> i hope my colleagues here, my republican colleagues will work with us in a partisan way to ensure that the senate does everything in their power to prioritize ambassador appointments, confirmation to this region as i note they are so concerned about the issues we
have seen at our southern border. as a result of great public corruption in the region. i am glad u.s. extend aid to the government of el salvador and instead reprogram it to civil society. we won't let them use it to advance their own interest and run counter to our policy priority and goals. these unfortunately are not limited to el salvador. guatemala constitutional port uses nontransparent processes to staff the court with judges who have clear conflicts of interest. there's only one judge fighting for the rule of law. they have also wasted no time
providing its priorities and reaffirming our fears. it first overruled -- overturned a ruling targeting a law. in the days before the vice president visit, they moved to dismantle one of the few remaining independent investigative bodies in the government. how do we work with such a country that is doing everything possible in order to work against progress in the region. -- region? >> i engaged my counterpart in guatemala with exactly those questions and concerns a few days ago. i know the vice president will be taking them up as well. look, our strong preference is to be able to work with
governments but, if the governments are unable or on willing to do what is necessary and be inappropriate partner for the u.s., we will continue and work with as we have in the past with the private sector. with the ngos, civil society, with other implementing partners and communities. there are many ways of effectively levering assistance and support that don't require working with a government that for one reason or another is not going to effectively use what we will achieve which is to help people make winning for improvements on their lives. when i was meeting with the central american foreign ministers in costa rica a few days ago, one of them said very eloquently that when dealing
with the drivers of migration, and we know what they are. we know what needs to be done. it's not like flipping a let's which, it takes real investments and sustain. it is doable. they said they should be a right to remain. people should not live in conditions where the only rational choice they have from their perspective is to leave everything they know behind, families, loved ones, language, culture, and make a hazardous journey here. our borders are not open and they will have to turn back. we have to find ways to help countries give meaning to the right to remain. that is better governance, fighting corruption, and especially, opportunity. if they can put food on the table and provide for the love once, they will make a goal out
of it and build their own communities. that is where i think we can partner with. vice president had a call to action recently to get further engagement from the private sector. i want to emphasize and you know this better than i do, it's not like flipping a light switch. it takes a lot of time and focus. >> i yield back. i apologize for taking longer. >> we need you to unmute. can you unmute? thank you. >> thank you, madam chair. thank you so much. i know that corruption and violence and all those negative aspects of world governments
don't contribute in any good ways to the population they are supposed to. it will contribute to migration patterns. the fact of the matter is that we as a nation have turned our ahead from latin america and the caribbean for far too long. it seems that the leadership role we need to play in that region, we have advocated our leadership there for far too long. we wonder all over the globe and back in our backyards, we are allowing other countries, our competitors and adversaries to know that gap of leadership. in meaningful and sustainable ways. for example, for important projects and the development of those regions.
with the covid-19 pandemic, latin america has witnessed 30% of the deaths in the caribbean. while they only make up eight percent of the global population. we have given money. i know that we spent lots of money allocated in the white house said they will distribute the vaccine long after china has been snooping around and providing help in the region. my question is mr. secretary, i know we reported 153 million two latin america and the caribbean. although they make up 30% of the debt. i know you requested close to $1 billion. we see an increase in funding going to has regions that are personally affected by covid-19? so we can compensate for the
time lost? >> i appreciate the question and i agree with you. we need and are focused on our own hemisphere and own region. it starts with the president. they are very much engaged, vice president particularly in guatemala, honduras, el salvador. i think with the covid piece of this. let me say that we gotta make sure americans are vaccinated. we made as you know, major strides in getting that done. we now have 80 million vaccines in access -- excess that we are pushing out deliberately over the next between now and early july. a significant destination for
those vaccines is our own hemisphere. once those 80 million vaccines are distributed, we will have by a doctor of five shared more vaccines on earth then china. china sold them and other laces. in terms of actually sharing them by a factor of five. we are not stopping there. we will continue as we have beyond july making them available. we are doing it on the basis of equity, science, need, working with covax on a lot of this which has an equitable distribution model but making sure we have in reserve the ability to target vaccines in places of need where variance --
variants are popping up. our neighbors are the most important beneficiaries of that. certainly, i've heard in almost every conversation i have had included in the region that we have this request for help. help is no there. -- now. >> as we know, this pandemic has cycles. some of those countries may be in their second spike, the second cycle of the pandemic. they have lost hundreds of thousands of people or even millions. they need that help as quickly as possible. my second question was involving our diplomats. i share concerns with my colleague that i think we should expedite the appointments of
those representatives of our nation. the caribbean is our third border and we see what is happening there. need to address that. we need folks on the ground to address this as quickly as possible. >> you have been very generous with your time. we will go to our next member and we go to our second round of questions. ahead of your visit to the middle east, i want to urge that the biden administration has repaired relationships with palestinians with policies that starve them of assistance and failed to on -- address the
underlying conditions to make sure they have a dignified few -- future. can you update us quickly on what role the u.s. is playing with the international construction efforts of gaza? the realistic timeframe for this? and the timeframe for reopening the concorde in jerusalem and as israel forms a new government, what assurances do you have with the new leadership that will work to de-escalate tensions such as avoiding and displacing victims from their homes or further settlement and expansions? we all know this is essential to the security of israel also. i still believe in the two state solution and a path forward for this. >> thank you very much. i share your perspective, communication and letter it one
of the main purposes of the trip besides making very clear our commitment to israel's security and ability to defend itself. one of the purposes of this trip was to truly restart our engagement with the palestinian people and with the palestinian authority. we had already before this crisis as you know, started the process of restoring security systems consistent with the law. on the trip, i was able to add to the assistance already provided to account for what had happened in gaza as well as the west bank. and to start the process of reopening our consulate. it is a vital platform for us to engage palestinians from all
walks of life and authorities. there is a process that we have to go through in terms of the consulate. i'm happy to share with your office what that is and what is the rough timeframe would be. second, the urgency of two things. gaza, humanitarian assistance, water, sewage, all of which which are in dire straits as a result of this conflict. we are focused both in terms of resources providing, and the work we are doing to ensure we can go forward as smoothly as possible. after that, we need to focus on reconstruction and rebuilding. doing it in a way that elevates
the palestinian authority and puts it in a way that does not go to hamas. it is done in coordination with egypt, united nations front and center, will put forward the plan and because different requirements. finally, this cycle is repeating itself. if we will not meaningfully address the flashpoints that could, going forward. you cited several of them. whether it is a potential eviction of house indians who have been living in their homes for decades, generations. whether it is the settlement activity. whether it is the way things
were dealt with at the mosque. whether it is violence committed by the settler community, those flashpoints need to be addressed similarly. incitement coming from palestinians, payments made to the families of those who have committed acts of terrorism. that all needs to be addressed as well. our diplomats are engaged and making sure that neither side engages in actions that could light another spark and turn it into a flame. i hope that as we are reengaged, we can build back some greater degree of trust, confidence, start to meaningfully improve people's lives and then, maybe
see conditions of two states possible. right now, the conditions are challenging or that. >> i note many of us would like to work with you on the path forward. i yield to mr. rogers. >> thank you, madam chair. can we switch to afghanistan? you promised the full weight of american support and the peace talks. if they move forward but how can the u.s. advanced the political settlement without boots on the ground? what sorts of leverage can be employed? >> it is an important question and there are significant portions of leverage that can be and are being used. there are a number of things
that the taliban wants including international recognition, including participation in governance, international support and in the near term, it is looking for things like prisoner releases. lifting of sanctions against its leaders. all of those things, we would have significant voices and simply put, if the taliban in any fashion tries to roll back the gains of the last 20 years, it will be a pariah. i don't think it is in their interest. beyond that, there is another dynamic important. a whole series of countries, afghanistan and the on that which for the last 20 years have
been free riders on our engagement there have to make hard decisions about how to sustain their interest and their influence as we remove our forces. none have an interest there in the possibility of pushing extremism and drugs outside of them. we are very much engaged with all of these countries we are looking to see how they are using their influence. the final thing i will say is even as we are withdrawing our forces, we are not withdrawing from afghanistan. we will sustain a strong embassy presence. program stews -- to support afghanistan, economic development, security forces, all that will remain. we are working with other partners.
we will say deeply engaged. i think all of those things are important levers that we can use and build upon. >> since 2013, china has been the uncivil source of fentanyl flowing into the u.s. market through mexico. in 2019, when china finally enacting new laws of the production, sales, of most of these drugs. to what extent is china enforcing that law? >> we are looking out this closely and carefully because your point is right. we have seen progress in putting in place laws and requirements.
what we are focused on is making sure it is a simple method and i will come back with our best assessment of that. >> thank you. >> i would like to yield. i have been informed that the secretary it is 4:35 eastern time. we will have your question for the record and get a response. >> i want to thank you for your last two answers for afghanistan and the israeli palestinian situation. and the steps you have underway to reverse some damage from the last administration where engagement was stopped and assistance was stumped as well. do you plan to start this assistance back up again?
and also responding to the needs from the latest conflict and you her -- york respect to provocations on either side. -- you're. but also settlement expansions and demolitions from the israeli side. all this is profoundly unhelpful. your -- in regards to afghanistan, i hope you are right. the diplomatic presence will continue to be effective and will offer substantial incentives for the maintenance of the games that the afghan people have made and that we have made in engaging with their
institutional governance and other institutions on civil society. let me specifically ask you about our presence continuing. how will the shape of our relationship changed? certainly, that will be different. in particular, is there some kind of realistic prospect for continued engagement in governance? in supporting there is a good budget for governance. it is afghanistan going to be on the agenda? >> in short, yes. as i said, we are determined in working very hard on sustaining and the engagement that goes along for that. including the various programs
to support afghanistan development and the security forces and enlisting others to make sure they are sustaining their own support. as long as we had the platform, the women and when -- meant dedicated to this task, i think the overwhelming bulk of our support. go forward in a way that provides the appropriate oversight that is necessary. we are putting in place right now are the pieces necessary to do that. >> we want to work with you on that. thank you. >> now, i will yield to mr. diaz. >> thank you for your patience.
two questions i will try to do quickly. you know the challenges that columbia is facing. they have made great progress but now, they are struggling with the humanitarian crisis across the border. we know about the demonstrations that took lace. do you and your administration support the democratically elected in ministration? can they count on your support? if you only to answer the second question, in haiti, president announced that they will hold a referendum in june. obviously, many are concerned that that may not be a free and fair election. what are your thoughts about the election and what could we do to promote the rule of law in haiti? while ensuring that aid is used effectively? two questions but i apologize that we don't have a lot of time. >> quickly on haiti, we will
move forward -- oppose moving forward with the constitutional referendum. that cannot be done in the timeframe suggested in a way that would make sense and truly be represented. we'll see if what is necessary will be used later in the air but not the constitutional referendum. it would be important to get back to more representative democracy and not rule by decree which is what we have seen recently. that is why there are important elections but they must move forward in a free and fair way. there is an oh af delegation there, almost right now that is looking at all of this and we can report back on how that is going. with columbia, i could not agree with you more eric they are in
vital strategic partner. they've been committed to columbia for many years. our the -- they are our strong support in 2016. and now, my friend, the foreign minister and vice president visiting the state department a few days ago. we remain deeply engaged with columbia. the governments important effort to bring together the various stakeholders in a real dialogue to address the concerns and grievances that have been expressed in these protests are important. so is the commitment to look into and provide accountability with any excessive use of force of anybody protesting peacefully and the right to do so. we have a comprehensive partnership working on so many
different levels that remains vitally important to us. also the incredible generosity in bringing in and supporting there brothers and sisters while providing temporary protected status to them as you know very well. the number of refugees is very significant and yet we have seen tremendous generosity from colombians. out of our budget goes to humanitarian assistance to make sure weekend help them support the burden they have taken on. >> thank you, i yield back. >> thank you, madam chair. thank you for being here. i guess this is my day unburden. i just want to say i am very worried about women in afghanistan and i hope we will do everything diplomatically possible to help them regain
their rights, maintain them, and keep them safe and secure. i am worried about the rise of anti-semitism, not only in our country but around the world. it seems like every time there is violence in israel, which in my opinion, was clearly caused by hamas, we see this rise in anti-semitism. i am interested to know what steps will the step -- state department used to combat and denounce it. >> i very much share your concern. we have seen very well a significant rise in anti-semitism over the last several years. yet, another spike now. as just one example, on social media recently including in the
wake of events in israel, 17,000 tweets of hitler's was right. attacks in our own country against that are deeply, deeply disturbing. i don't do the domestic peas, when it comes to internationally, we are seeing this in different parts of the world. we are very focused on this. as a department, we will be naming and envoy to do full-time work on combating anti-semitism around the world. that should be forthcoming very, very soon. and in virtually all our engagements around the world, when it is necessary and appropriate, this is something we are raising, putting a spotlight on, bringing up and bg .
i will let someone else get a question in. thank you very much. >> i will yield to mr. fortenberry. >> mr. secretary, you major position known earlier on this, but in good conscience, i must make mine known as well. we might as well put this out in the open, regarding -- i believe this is inconsistent with sound diplomacy. it is a projection of our own ideological position throughout the world and it disrespects the cultural norms of other people. again, good fences make good neighbors. i'd like you to be aware that there are great in sensibilities in this regard. in this matter, getting back to the earlier question on how long
we can work successfully together on projects to mutual benefit for the entire world, i believe that regenerative agriculture is a real key to development. we have a lot of new ideas, we are taking expertise around specific areas and providing specialties and forestry and diplomacy. the idea of enhanced surge capacity when you need it.
[indiscernible] sec. blinken: you faded in and out a little bit what i'm pretty sure i got the substance of that. the short answer is, we welcome working with you on that. i agree there is a lot we can do and i believe in getting your ideas on how we can do that more effectively. rep. fortenberry: ok, great. thank you, madam chair. >> i think i am the last person standing between you and being done after a very long day. never mind, we still have a little ways to go. you said the statement -- state department has 1000 fewer employees than four years ago, is that correct? sec. blinken: it is. >> have those losses been concentrated in one area in the foreign service or the civil
service side? sec. blinken: primarily civil service. >> the fire -- hiring freeze resulted in a lot of attrition over the last for years, is that correct? some are not new positions, they're just rehiring and filling some of the vacancies you've had. sec. blinken: it is a combination, that's right. >> and you will look to fill these positions with diversity and inclusion, how confident are you you can meet this goal in this fiscal year? sec. blinken: we are determined to mediate. we need to mediate, we need to make sure we are resource conscious financially and in terms of human resources to address many of the things we've had an opportunity to talk about today, particularly in areas where we do need to strengthen our capacity, were -- whether it comes to bill of health, climate, china, where we have a
very significant program to increase the human resources dedicated to the different manifestations, emerging technologies, cyber, all of that demands not just people but a certain amount of expertise as well. so we are trying to find ways to bring that in as well as fill some of these gaps. we have about a 10%-12% vacancy rate overseas at our embassies and consulates. some of that is seasonal as people are in between assignments. what we might -- want to make sure we don't have gaps. we found temporary ways to deal with some of these gaps, temporary deployments of people, bringing back retirees, and using family members, for example. with our consular services, because under covid there has been a huge drop in demand for the services which we need to build back.
we do have some flexibility there where incoming officers can be shifted to other assignments where we have gaps. so we are trying all these flexibilities, but it is critical for us to get the support we need to bring in these additional roughly 500 people. rep. wexler: we look forward to working with you to help you do that. with that, i yield back. >> i would like to see if we can just get on the record -- thank you again. >> i'll yield my three minutes to represented a fortenberry. rep. fortenberry: mr. secretary,
we have seen excess vaccines that are going bad around the country. -- can you find a pathway to help us get that done? >> thank you, madam chair and thank you sec. blinken, again, i agree with your comments regarding columbia and i want to thank you for addressing our concerns there. they are a very important anti-narco trafficking partner with us and i want to make sure that we investigate carefully. i want to continue our conversation around the northern triangle. how does the state department ensure that u.s. funding is not misused, politicized, are used against our interests? i'm particularly concerned about foreign military financing as
we've seen the security forces in the northern triangle commit human rights abuses, not democratic actions, and even intimidate our own embassy. i look forward to you addressing this issue going forward. thank you, madam chair, and i yield back. >> thank you, members, for helping us with the time. i want to call your attention, forgive me if i'm not pronouncing this right -- with the state department. your recent decision to extend the waiver of the freedom support act and i don't believe our ranking member is still with us but i would just like to say
thank you very much for being with us on behalf of our ranking member and myself and all of our members. you have such hard work to do, the world is in your hands and we look forward to the work you continue and if there's anything we can do to assist you in this process, please let us know. sec. blinken: thank you so much, and i think the world is in our hands, collectively. we will continue working closely with this committee and other colleagues on the multiple challenges. we will be so much more effective if we are doing it together. i really appreciate both the substance of the conversation today as well as the way going forward. i heard a number of really good ideas that we will follow and i look forward to working with you on those, so thank you. >> >> c-span is your unfiltered
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