WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), U.S. Representative David Cicilline (RI-01), and U.S. Representative Ami Bera (CA-07) on Tuesday proposed a significant increase to the international affairs budget for Fiscal Year 2022 to better address America’s national security challenges. Investing in 21st Century Diplomacy calls for a $12 billion increase, directing the funding toward three specific challenges: (1) competing with China; (2) preparing for the next pandemic in a post COVID-19-era; and (3) fighting climate change.
“If this year has taught us anything, it’s that the biggest threats posed to our country really aren't foreign armies. This is why it’s so mind-boggling that our Defense Department budget continues to increase by tens of billions of dollars each year, while funding for other vital national security agencies has remained flat,” said Murphy. “We must maintain the strongest military on the planet, but we have to get smarter about the national security challenges that can only be met with non-military solutions. That’s why we are proposing a $12 billion increase to the international affairs budget, and unveiling a blueprint for how to spend this increased funding in a way that allows us to respond to the pressing challenges ahead: competing with China on the world stage, shoring up our defenses to stop the next pandemic, and fighting climate change. It’s time to stop trying to solve non-military problems with military tools, and actually give agencies like the State Department and USAID the resources they need in the 21st century.”
“There is a dangerous misalignment between the nature of the foreign policy challenges we face and our current strategy and resources for meeting them. We wield the world’s most powerful military, but China is gaining an upper hand in many parts of the world by leveraging its economic muscle and growing technological prowess. Meanwhile, we are ill-equipped to meet the threats of climate change and pandemics. Instead of fighting yesterday’s wars, this plan will deploy resources to meet the dynamic and evolving threats of today and tomorrow. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Administration to adopt these recommendations,” said Van Hollen.
“Over the last decade, China has doubled its diplomatic budget and expanded its malign sphere of influence. At the same time, Republicans in Congress have hollowed out the State Department and USAID. We cannot allow this to continue,” said Cicilline. “Our diplomats deserve a budget that meets their needs and allows them to do the critical work of keeping our country safe. I’m proud to be working with Senators Murphy and Van Hollen, as well as Congressman Bera, in this important effort.”
“For far too long, diplomatic and military leaders alike have called for us to invest in the diplomatic and development arms of our foreign policy with the same robust commitment of resources that we provide to our military,” said Bera. “The urgency of making that investment has never been clearer. Today’s most pressing challenges, from the COVID-19 pandemic, to a rising China, to the climate crisis, require aid workers that can take vaccines abroad to keep us all safe from the next pandemic, diplomats that can rally our allies and partners in response to China, and negotiators that can bring the world together to prevent the worst of climate change. None of these are military problems. That is why I’m proud to join Senator Murphy, Senator Van Hollen, and Representative Cicilline in calling for a $12 billion increase in pivotal foreign affairs programs that will put us ahead of today’s biggest challenges. 21st century problems require 21st century solutions.”
In 2017, Murphy proposed doubling the State Department budget over five years to develop stronger capacities to respond to contemporary challenges in his white paper Rethinking the Battlefield. In 2019, Murphy penned a piece for the Atlantic in which he makes the case that a new Democratic administration needs a new foreign policy toolkit to advance our values and interests abroad.
You can read Investing in 21st Century Diplomacy: A Budget Plan to Compete with China, Prevent the Next Pandemic, and Fight Climate Change here.