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Washington, D.C.- Yesterday, House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul delivered the following opening statement at a full committee hearing on USAID’s Foreign Policy and International Development Priorities with Administrator Samantha Power. 

WATCH HERE.

-Remarks as Delivered-

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And welcome Administrator Power to the committee to discuss the agency’s foreign policy and international development priorities.

From the devastation in Ukraine to the continuing humanitarian crises around the world, your mission is becoming more and more critically important.

It’s imperative that Congress and the administration work together to understand these complex challenges and ensure the use of taxpayer dollars to advance U.S. foreign policy objectives is made. 

The needs around the world are really growing, as well as here at home.

USAID must double its efforts to ensure rigorous monitoring, vetting, and transparency, so that every dollar is achieving results.

You and I have had a lot of personal conversations that I appreciate the time you spent talking to me about that very issue.

As you and I both know and everyone, the situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate. In fact the city of Mariupol fell just yesterday…

It also has created an extraordinary humanitarian catastrophe.

It’s been inspiring to see Ukraine and its neighbors, particularly Poland, offer open arms to the refugees, accepting over 3.3 million innocent Ukrainians.

The chairman and I have been there; the Republican leader and I went to Romania to see their efforts, as well as Poland again and the Ukraine border.

Every European nation needs to contribute to supporting Ukraine, and the strong response to the refugee crisis again from Poland to Romania to Hungary to Moldova, which we would be attending shortly, to Slovakia has been critical.

The continued blockade of the Black Sea and the Port of Odessa, as you and I talked about, could have devastating consequences on the world food supply.

Ukraine is a breadbasket for the world, supplier of the wheat supply globally. And the failure to be able to export these commodities will lead to starvation of millions of people around the globe.

This impending food crisis will exacerbate conflict and further destabilize the fragile states we see particularly I think in Africa.

We must act now to address this threat. As the chairman mentioned we passed the $40 billion supplemental both of lethal weapons and humanitarian aid at a time when I think it is most needed.

But I do want to be clear.

Vladimir Putin’s actions are pushing 40 million more people into an urgent humanitarian disaster, whether it be Ukrainian to blocking off and choking Ukraine from the Black Sea in an effort to starve them, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Stalin starved his own people in Ukraine so many years ago.

It’s really interesting to see history repeat itself and the parallel we see to World War Two.

Our adversaries are exploiting these crises to advance their malign agenda and undermine the rule of law.

USAID must recognize this threat and be more strategic in utilizing foreign aid as a key tool to counter the malign actions of both now Russia and China as they are now allies. And this unholy alliance that they formed and forged at the Beijing Olympics.

I continue to be concerned about China and their Belt and Road initiative. Their debt trap diplomacy efforts are saddling developing countries with unsustainable debt while securing strategic investments and gaining leverage. And on that point, administrator, the idea that 20 African nations abstained from the UN security resolution, abstaining from supporting Ukraine against Mr. Putin, just shows how much of a grip the CCP has over these 20 African nations.

They also use their leverage to coerce countries to break diplomatic relations with Taiwan and to refrain from criticizing China’s appalling human rights violations. I know you’ve wrote a piece on genocide in your prior lifetime I should say.

China recently blindsided me and the Biden administration with a security pact with the Solomon Islands, which is particularly concerning, basically buying their way into take over the very islands my father’s generation liberated. These are the very same islands that go back to World War Two; now, they are under the thumb of the CCP.

The Biden Administration’s FY23 budget request undercut a deepening of engagement in the Indo-Pacific. I have to look at the threats not only to Europe but to Asia as this crisis unfolds.

When I meet with the partners and allies around the world, I ask why are they entering into dangerous agreements with the CCP, and they tell me because we’re not there.

I think we need to be on the field to win, and we need to compete. I think your agency, along with the Development Finance Corporation, which was created by this committee, has a solemn obligation in this competition–this great, generational competition that we do have with China.

It’s also important we help understand that it’s American generosity that is changing lives, and that is why with Mark Green, your predecessor’s request, I implemented the Branding Modernization Act to see that the United States flag when we send food and medicine, that they know it’s coming from the United States of America, for China certainly puts their flag and raises it very high.

The legacy of U.S. efforts to save lives and support the development of healthy, more prosperous, more stable communities is something we all can be proud of.

But we are witnessing the largest invasion in Europe since the Nazis, since World War Two, since my dad’s war.

We went to Poland. They said it’s eerily reminiscent of 1939 and the parallels are real when Hitler invaded Poland. And I really commend the Polish people for the burden they have beared in accepting these refugees and what I think is one of the greatest examples of being a good neighbor for humanitarian purposes.

With that Mr. Chairman, I yield back.”

 

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