Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is warning Congress the State Department cannot meet all of its obligations if foreign aid and the department’s budget are deeply cut.
“Well, they wanted us to keep doing what we were expected to do in Iraq, doing in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and, oh by the way, what you’re trying to do in Yemen, what you’re trying to do in Somalia, what you’re trying to do in Sudan, etc., etc.,” she told The Associated Press in an interview on Tuesday. “But we don’t want to give you as much money, so you just keeping doing that.”
Clinton said she is committed to educating lawmakers on Capitol Hill about the work of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to try to make a strong case against spending reductions.
But as Congress continues to demand that the State Department continue fulfilling its wide range of responsibilities, Clinton said she has looked to the Defense Department’s model of carving out an “Overseas Contingency Operation” that includes separate accounts for Iraq Afghanistan and Pakistan, which she said “relieves some of the pressure” on the foreign aid budget.
The secretary of state also told the wire that the administration has even turned to Israel to help make the case against foreign aid to some members of Congress. “We’re asking the Israelis on a case by case basis,” she said.
“It’s a burden for us to keep making the case,” Clinton said. “But then I’ll get called by a conservative member of Congress who asks, ‘Why aren’t we doing more in the Horn of Africa? Those people are starving.’ And so we have to keep making the case, and we are.”
The “biggest concern” she hears about from people, Clinton said, is about the need to process more visas.
“We have increased the numbers. We are open six days a week. We have more people doing it. The demand is just enormous. And so if we’re going to keep up on the economic side, there are certain functions we have to be able to perform,” she said.
The secretary of state acknowledged that it is a challenge to fight for aid against the Defense Department.
“I’m fully aware of the much greater presence of the Defense Department on the Hill and also the very strong allegiance that many members have to every weapons system that ever was proposed,” she said.
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