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Democrats pitch significant increase to international affairs budget

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Messrs. Chris Murphy and Chris Van Hollen and Representatives David Cicilline and Ami Bera provide an additional $ 12 billion overall that they say “prudently realigns our national security priorities and provides us with the tools to improve the livelihoods of and address the most pressing threats facing the United States and the world. “

A congressional aide told CNN lawmakers believe some elements of the proposal they could move on their own, but that plan unveiled on Tuesday could also provide a progressive roadmap for the Biden administration as it develops its budget for 2022

In a call with reporters Tuesday, Murphy said he had talked “extensively” about the ideas with administration officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

“I can’t speak for them. Viouslybviament they are halfway to meeting their budget, but I can say that I think … in the administration there is a lot of recognition that it will be difficult for them to win battles abroad without new tools in the Department of State and USAID, ”he said.

“We are now publishing this document in the hope of affecting the decisions the administration makes,” Murphy added. “I think there are a lot of sympathetic voices, but this is a proposal that we hope will lift your confidence in proposing an increase in your budget to be presented to Congress.”

President Joe Biden, Blinken and other national security officials have spoken of the need to reinvigorate and reinvest in diplomacy and relations on the world stage after investments and confidence in these spheres suffered under the Trump administration.

“If this year has taught us anything, it’s that the biggest threats to our country are not really foreign armies. That’s why it’s so amazing that our Department of Defense budget continues to increase by tens of billions. dollars each year, while funding for other vital national security agencies has remained constant, “said Connecticut Sen. Murphy. “We need to keep the strongest military on the planet, but we need to be smarter about the national security challenges that can only be faced with non-military solutions.”

“Today’s most pressing challenges, from the COVID-19 pandemic to China’s rise to the climate crisis, require aid workers who can bring vaccines abroad to keep us to all safe from the impending pandemic, diplomats who can bring together our allies and partners in response to China and negotiators who can unite the world to prevent the worst climate change. None of these are military problems, “the representative of California, Bera.

The plan sets out a series of specific spending increases aimed at addressing the focus of legislators ’attention. In an attempt to combat China, they propose a $ 85 million increase in fiscal year 19 to the State Department’s Global Commitment Center, which directs efforts “to recognize, understand, expose, and counter the efforts of propaganda and misinformation of states and foreign states intended to undermine “influencing the policies, security or stability of the United States, its allies and associated nations,” according to the agency

It also proposes a significant increase in the spending limit for the U.S. Development Finance Corporation as a means to compete with Beijing’s large investments in developing countries, which they use to exert the influence of soft power in those countries. .

Van Hollen of Maryland noted that while the United States has the most powerful army in the world, “China is gaining advantage in many parts of the world by leveraging its economic muscle and growing technological prowess.”

“Over the past decade, China has doubled its diplomatic budget and expanded its sphere of malignant influence,” Cicilline of Rhode Island said.

The plan also proposes billions of dollars more for the global health programs of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development and for global health security during AF19.

“We would be crazy to maintain the same level of funding for global public health in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the plan states. “A new pandemic could arise at any time and we need the resources to stop it before it reaches our shores.”

In addition, it calls for a renewed investment in the staff of the State Department and USAID, an increase that would allow more staff to both agencies, as well as a massive increase in spending on efforts against climate change. The Trump administration dismissed and downplayed climate change, but Biden said it will be a key feature of his national security approach.

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