Appropriations Committee Reviews FY2022 Department of State Budget Requests

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VIDEO:  Senator Hyde-Smith Questions Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today tackled several issues arising in budget recommendations for the U.S. Department of State, including ensuring American tax dollars do not support attacks on Israel or fund abortions overseas.

Hyde-Smith serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which conducted a hearing Tuesday to review the FY2022 budget request for the State Department.  Secretary of State Antony Blinken testified at the hearing.

Citing the request to restore humanitarian aid for Palestinians, Hyde-Smith sought assurances that U.S. taxpayer dollars will not end up in the hands of Hamas or other Palestinian terrorist groups.

“Being a democracy surrounded by many enemies whose stated policy is the destruction of Israel, U.S. support of Israel and its right to defend itself is of vital importance.  Ensuring U.S. funding does not benefit terrorist organizations is in our national security interest and a duty to our allies,” said Hyde-Smith, who has cosponsored the Stop Taxpayer Funding of Hamas Act and Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act.

Blinken testified the administration believes it “can put in place the right process, the right mechanism, the right oversight to ensure that funds used to rebuild, taxpayer funds in our case, would not go to Hamas.”

“I agree with you, both in your statements about Israel, the threats that it faces, and the need to ensure that as we work to not only deal with the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza, but ultimately, to reconstruct and rebuild, that any assistance provided does not end up in the hands of Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or any other terrorist group that has vowed the destruction of Israel,” Blinken told Hyde-Smith.

On the pro-life front, Hyde-Smith criticized the President’s elimination of Protect Life in Global Health Assistance, the policy that protected taxpayer dollars from subsidizing foreign non-government organizations that perform or actively promote abortions overseas, such as International Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International.

“Your budget would funnel even more taxpayer dollars to these organizations by increasing the slush fund for international family planning and reproductive health by $8.7 million,” Hyde-Smith said.  “Promoting abortion in poor, developing nations, especially when those nations have pro-life laws in place right now, harms the most vulnerable and undermines the goodwill we seek to do with global health assistance.”

Blinken defended the budget request and denied it would support abortions.

“As you know well, women and girls in particular have been the victims in so many different ways of COVID, of conflict, and denying access to reproductive health only exacerbates the problem.  Having said that, we also take very seriously the proposition that we are not in the business of funding internationally the provider--funding abortion,” Blinken said.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is in the process of conducting hearings to review the President’s FY2022 budget request in preparation for writing appropriations bills for the upcoming fiscal year.