Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sec'y Hillary Clinton and Sec'y Roberts Gates appear before the Senate Appropriations Committe

Today Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committe. I haven't seen the entire hearing, which you can watch on CSPAN here. But I've briefly summarized some key talking points amidst all the photos. On Military Funding:

The Obama administration is beefing up the role and funding for diplomacy and nonmilitary development in the battles against the Taliban and al-Qaida.

The administration wants $83.4 billion in emergency funding to cover the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the second half of 2009

“Our joint appearance symbolizes the continuing improvement in relationships and close collaboration between the departments of State and Defense,” Gates said.

The Defense Department would get the bulk of the money: $76 billion. The State Department: $7.4 billion.

Gates stressed that “the challenges confronting our nation cannot be dealt with by military means alone." They require “whole-of-government approaches, ... but that can only be done if the State Department is given resources befitting the scope of its mission across the globe."

The war-funding request may fall short on that account. “Our investment in diplomacy and development is only about 6 percent of our total national security budget,” Clinton told the senators.

Senators seemed enthusiastic about the new emphasis on nonmilitary aid to Afghanistan, calling for more food aid and agricultural assistance, and expressing concern about the oppression of girls and women in that country.

Gates cautioned against sending too much U.S. military force to Afghanistan. Obama plans to increase U.S. troop strength there to 68,000, he said, and U.S. commanders have asked for 10,000 more. Gates said he opposes sending the extra troops until he has time to see how well a force of 68,000 fares there.

Clinton stressed the need to deploy civilian experts to Afghanistan, particularly in agriculture. Thirty or 40 years ago, Afghanistan was “the garden of central Asia” but now is “eroded and denuded,” she said.

U.S. agriculture efforts have focused on eradicating poppy crops to disrupt heroin production, but little has been done to restore food production, she said, adding that she planned to change that and recruit agriculture experts for service in Afghanistan.

Gates and Clinton said the $83.4 billion supplemental will be the last separate war-funding request, with future funding for overseas contingencies folded into the regular annual defense budget request.

Key elements in the request include: • $38 billion to cover the costs of keeping troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. • $11.6 billion to repair or replace equipment worn out or destroyed in the wars. That includes money for four F-22 stealth fighters that Gates said are to replace an F-15 and three F-16s “classified as combat losses.” • $9.8 billion for force protection, including $2.7 billion for 1,000 all-terrain MRAP vehicles for use in Afghanistan. • $3.6 billion to improve Afghan security forces. • $1.5 billion to continue developing defenses against improvised explosive devices.

On North Korea and Hamas:

Hillary Clinton said the United States had no plans to give North Korea economic aid and Pyongyang was digging a "deeper and deeper" hole by its latest actions.

"We have absolutely no interest and no willingness on the part of this administration to give them any economic aid at all," Clinton told lawmakers.

She was defending a budget request for nearly $100 million for future U.S. economic aid to North Korea.

"That money is in there in the event, which at this point seems implausible if not impossible, the North Koreans return to the six-party talks and begin to disable their nuclear capacity again... They are digging themselves into a deeper and deeper hole with the international community."

Secretary Clinton has rejected reports that the Obama administration will agree to transfer funds to a Palestinian government that includes Hamas members.

"There is no possibility of funding Hamas... That is absolutely not possible under the language of the supplemental, nor is it possible under our administration's policy."

"What we have said is that if there were to be, which at this moment seems highly unlikely, a unity government that consisted of the Palestinian authority members from Fatah and any members from Hamas, the government itself plus every member of the government would have to commit to the Quartet principles," Clinton added. "Namely, they must renounce violence, they must recognize Israel and they must agree to abide by the former PLO and Palestinian authority agreements... That has been our policy, and that is what we have told our partners in Europe and elsewhere, which is why we've been very hesitant and quite unconvinced about any efforts to create a unity government."

She clearly denied recent reports claiming that the Obama administration softened the text of the request for aid to the Palestinians, so that funds could be transferred even in case a national unity government with Hamas is set up in the Palestinian Authority.

On the detaining of Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she is very concerned about the health and well-being of Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, who is on a hunger strike after being convicted in Iran on spying charges and sentenced to eight years in jail.

“She is extremely unhappy and quite rebellious about being held in such a horrible situation and is on a hunger strike... She has arbitrarily been in our view held without any kind of transparency or process. We have called on the Iranian government, both directly and through other emissaries, to release her.”

Read her opening remarks here or watch below:


Jackie said...

Is it me or did this hearing bore you ? Hillary was awesome as she always is, but man these senators need to liven things up a bit.

Sarah said...

ha! its so funny you mention that. i was going to organize the photos by how bored Hillary looked! when you scrolled down it would literally look like she was getting more and more bored and falling asleep.

but then i thought i would be the only one who would think that was funny heheh

Stacy said...

This hearing was a bit boring. No real zingers like when she was before the House committee but then again, this one was about money, so that explains zzzzzzzzzz factor. Like I said in comments to another post here, I ended up turning down the volume when I was watching it live yesterday so I could at least *see* Hillary but not have to listen to the Senators tedious comments- then I would turn up the volume when she was speaking.

But the pics are great!

stacy said...

Ok, I'm going to risk embarrassing myself but I might as well do it here where people are more likely to understand as opposed to, say, the people where I work who would probably think it's time for me to be committed to an institution.

I have this thing where I can't help but check (in pictures) what ring she is wearing on her left ring finger and am a bit fascinated that she wears a different one almost all the time (or so it seems), as opposed to just her wedding or engagement ring.

So when you see the men with the baskets, I think they're coming for me.....;)

PYW said...

Stacy, I sometimes notice her rings, too. :-)

Stacy said...

Hey...Cabinet meeting today and you know what that means...Hillary sighting! Blue pantsuit, looking fab while they talked about swine flu.

Stacy said...

FYI- Hillary gave a keynote address at the State Dept. for Foreign Affairs Day:

Anonymous said...

I'll have to watch her rings, I never noticed that before! I wonder what Bill thinks of her switching rings on her left ring finger...

PYW said...

He's probably the one who gave her all those rings, lol.

Still4Hill said...

Yeah - Bill loves to give her jewelry. He does give her rings.

Sarah said...

i have totally noticed the ring thing too! i even thought about posting on it... but i thought i would look to crazy... guess we are all a little crazed.

but this gold one she was wearing this day she wears a lot more often than others... then tend to match with what she is wearing, like gold or silver...

ahh.. one day i would like to have that many wedding rings

Stacy said...

PYW: I know, I know...Bill probably gave her every one of those rings, but I still can't help but notice...;)

I think it was during her last hearing (the one before the appropriations committee hearing) where she was wearing a cool gold ring with what looked like an opal or something and I don't remember seeing that one before.

See, we're not crazy...a bit obsessed perhaps, but it's all for a good cause :)

So, who else keeps an eye on these very particular things with Hillary that they think would make them seem crazy? Come on, fess up!

Jackie said...

I always pay attention to her jewelry, and I will also admit that I am obsessed. I can't help it, she makes me smile.

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