Mr. Chairman, I can't do a better job of laying
out the issue than you just did, so I am going to keep my opening
remarks relatively short.
I want to thank you for your tireless leadership
on this issue; for holding this hearing; and for working with me
to introduce what I believe is a very good bill. I also want to
thank Senator Biden for his insightful comments and his long track
record of good work on nonproliferation issues.
The Lugar-Obama legislation, S.1949, does two basic
First, it enhances our ability, working with friends
and allies, to detect and intercept illegal shipments of weapons
and materials of mass destruction. Second, the bill bolsters ongoing
efforts to destroy conventional weapons such as lightweight anti-aircraft
As the Chairman pointed out in his opening statement,
many of these efforts are under-funded, fragmented, and in need
of high-level support. I take note of the Chairman's comments that
new threat reduction proposals - even the Nunn-Lugar program - are
not always warmly received by the Executive Branch.
I agree with your testimony Secretary Joseph that
the Department does need flexibility to deal effectively with global
threats and international diplomacy. But that isn't the issue here
before us today. Every Member of this Committee wants to give the
State Department the flexibility it needs.
This issue here today is whether the State Department
could use additional resources and coordination to more effectively
deal with two critically important threats - interdiction of WMD
and destruction of conventional weapons. I believe it can.
I am also concerned that the issue just simply does
not get the attention it deserves within the State Department.
I know that both the President and Secretary Rice
have expressed their commitment to nonproliferation issues. But,
four key State Department interdiction and nonproliferation programs
are either flat-lined or slated for only modest of increases in
the President's budget. Meanwhile, a $1.2 billion increase is proposed
for the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), which will provide funding
to nations such as Cape Verde, Madagascar, and Vanuatu.
I am supportive of the MCA, and I am not saying
that these countries aren't worthy of U.S. assistance. But, a budget
is about prioritizing strategic objectives. And, in my view, the
priorities don't appropriately align with the strategic threats
we confront today.
Secretary Joseph, despite my concerns, I am hopeful
that we can work together to make adjustments to our budget priorities.
With regard to Lugar-Obama, I am also confident that we can work
in a collaborative spirit to make a good bill even better. I look
forward to your testimony.