WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the International Development and Foreign Assistance Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today called the Fiscal Year 2013 International Affairs budget request “a critical investment in America’s national security.” During the hearing, the Senator said that he fully agreed with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she said the budget is a “down payment on U.S. leadership.”
“Development, along with defense and diplomacy, is one of three critical prongs that helps ensure America’s national security,” said Senator Cardin. “As the Chairman of the International Development and Foreign Assistance Subcommittee, I am pleased that the Administration has presented a budget that reflects those priorities.
“Americans often do not understand how the work of the State Department and USAID affects their lives. Aside from the humanitarian and moral imperative of improving the lives of the world’s neediest, I would also like to underscore how our development assistance overseas expands export markets and ultimately strengthens our domestic job market.”
The Senator pledged to continue championing programs that bring greater transparency and good governance to the countries in which they are implemented, and he applauded the Administration’s efforts to ensure greater transparency of our own government.
Senator Cardin also stressed the importance of empowering women, saying, “Empowering women is one of the most critical tools we have to fight poverty and injustice. I want to praise USAID for releasing a new Policy for Gender Equality and Female Empowerment, which makes integrating gender and including women and girls central to all U.S. international assistance. Updating 30-year-old guidelines, this new policy recognizes the fundamental truth that the integration of women and girls is basic to effective international assistance.”
The Senator also praised the State Department and USAID for their role in providing assistance in Afghanistan. “USAID workers have been killed while carrying out the core mission of good governance, fighting corruption and gender equity. Their efforts have made a huge difference in improving the lives of Afghans, but their safety while carrying out these important programs is of utmost concern.”