As prepared for delivery at a subcommittee hearing to review the President’s FY2012 budget for Africa on April 14, 2011
I am pleased to chair today’s Africa subcommittee hearing examining the President’s budget request for sub-Saharan Africa in Fiscal Year 2012. It is a distinct privilege to serve as subcommittee chairman, and I am grateful for the opportunity given to me by Chairman Kerry and my colleagues on the Committee.
I am also honored to serve with my friend Senator Isakson, and look forward to working with him in the 112th Congress on issues we both care deeply about in Africa including economic growth, security, stability, governance, global health, food security, conflict prevention, and democratic institution-building.
The goal of today’s hearing is to review the President’s budget request for Africa, including bilateral and regional priorities for foreign assistance. This hearing will help inform the Committee of the administration’s program and resource priorities in sub-Saharan Africa, as well the basis and projections for requested resources. The discussion is intended to also include priority initiatives such as the Global Health Initiative including the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Feed the Future, as well as the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
One of the objectives of the hearing is to consider the whole of government approach toward the region and to explore the impact of proposed budget cuts in the continuing resolution, or CR, for Fiscal Year 2011. Within a constrained budgetary environment, these are issues of critical importance for the Committee and Congress as we consider the implications of tightening our belt. Unfortunately, limited resources require difficult decisions and trade-offs regarding budgetary priorities. I hope to hear from our witnesses about the implications of reductions in foreign assistance, and the projected impact these cuts will have in Africa where the need is great and the resources are scarce.
According to the long-term CR, on which we will vote later today, the Pentagon’s budget is more than ten times larger than that of State. Today, we will consider cuts to the State budget from last year while raising the Pentagon budget, which demonstrates about our growing emphasis on military spending at the expense of foreign assistance. I am pleased that both Secretary of Defense Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mullen have expressed their strong support for increased resources for the State Department, so it can continue to lead U.S. diplomacy and development as a means of mitigating the potential for military conflict.
Today we will hear from the State Department, as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the MCC, about their strategy for sub-Saharan Africa, as reflected in their budget requests for the next fiscal year. We will examine the administration’s priorities and means by which it aims to meet competing goals in the region, responding not only to U.S. objectives but also to regional and bilateral needs.
As demonstrated by this chart, the total foreign assistance request for Africa in FY12 is $7.8 billion, nearly three-quarters of which is dedicated to global health. This program increased dramatically during the Bush administration as a result of new initiatives to combat HIV/AIDS and malaria. The Global Health Initiative (GHI) was developed under President Obama in 2009, and I look forward to hearing today from the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Eric Goosby, about future plans for the GHI and specifically PEPFAR.
Six percent of the Africa budget request is dedicated toward the Feed the Future initiative, which was developed by President Obama to last year to address global hunger and poverty. Twelve of twenty focus countries are in Africa, representing one-third of the total funding. With USAID as the agency responsible for coordination of Feed the Future, I look forward to hearing from Deputy Assistant Administrator Jandhyala about agricultural development programs and food security, as well as the wide range of other areas of cooperation between USAID and State with regard to Africa policy and planning.
After the initiative funding, only 23% of the budget – or $1.8 billion – remains, which must be carefully divided between the wide range of foreign assistance priorities overseen by the State Department, such as strengthening democratic institutions, fostering sustainable economic growth, preventing and resolving armed conflict, and helping to address transnational threats, among other issues. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson is here to discuss these priorities and challenges, as well as current events in Africa, such as the Nigerian elections and violence in Cote d’Ivoire.
Finally, we will hear from Patrick Fine, Vice President for Compact Implementation for the Millennium Challenge Corporation about the MCC’s work in Africa, where it focuses 70% of its funding. The MCC is a smart investment that has contributed to poverty reduction through economic growth in well-governed countries, and I look forward to hearing from Mr. Fine about his plans to expand and sustain past success in light of anticipated budget cuts.
I appreciate our witnesses being here today, and look forward to your testimony.