Secretary Rice on Bush Budget Request for FY 2006

Following is an excerpt from Secretary Rice’s March 9, 2005 testimony before the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice, and Commerce, and Related Agencies:

Thank you.

Madam Secretary, welcome before this subcommittee.

As you can tell by the number of members here, we’re very interested in your issues, the issues that you represent, and that you represent this country over.

Yesterday, in the full committee, we did, as we made mention earlier and as you know already, marked up a supplemental appropriations bill. And in that bill there was $580 million that was included for the U.N. international peacekeeping mission.

The administration, I think, had requested $780 million, but we included the $580 million because that’s the amount of bills that are due.

And given the recent and some would say systematic problems at the U.N., I would enjoy your help in allowing us to understand why it’s important that we maintain this funding.

A number of our colleagues considered this to be an issue that we shouldn’t fund and shouldn’t be involved in, and members are, in fact, making those positions known. In fact, they want the funding stripped out of the bill.

Would you care to comment on this?RICE:
Well, thank you very much. It is crucial that we get this funding.

If we have less than the president’s request, we’re already in danger of being either in arrearages or not being able when, for instance, the Sudan peacekeeping forces are ready to be funded, not being able to fund our share of that.

And when you think about the peacekeeping function, these are areas of the world where we want to stop the violence, where we want to give people a chance and where American forces are not generally involved.

So for instance, we were the lead edge to go into a place like Haiti and help establish order right at the front end, but now it’s a Brazilian-led peacekeeping force.

In Liberia, we were a lead edge with Marines, but then it became an ECOWAS force in which the Nigerians took that lead.

When we go look at Sudan, it’s going to be the African Union that will take the lead.

This is much more cost effective than using American forces. And of course, America doesn’t have the forces to do all of that these peacekeeping missions, but somebody has to do them. And the United States has to pay its share of people doing them.

On the one hand, we can’t say we want to see the violence end in Liberia, the violence end in Haiti, or the violence end in Sudan and then fail to fund the very mechanism that can help end the violence.

And so I would strongly urge the members of the committee to argue for this, and anything that I can do to help you in that argument, I would be willing to do.

Because we all watch these terrible situations on television, and people say, “Do something.” Well, the peacekeeping operation is the way that we do something, and we do it with other people’s forces.

It doesn’t obviate the need for understanding and reacting to the kind of — the bad situation that has happened with the U.S. peacekeeping forces. And I know that Kofi Annan and his people are investigating that and are going to try to put in measures that prevent such actions.

And we will be very much a part of that because we believe that these peace keeping missions have to be above the fray in that sense. That shouldn’t happen with peacekeeping missions.

But I hope that the fact that something like that happened will not take away support for this very vital function, which really we don’t want American forces doing.

Are the bills for the missions due at the end of this fiscal year?

These are assessments that have been made and so…

The $580 million, does that cover the assessments through the end of March?

I will have to check. It’s that — does that cover all of the assessments? Yes, in order to cover — I thought so.

In over to cover the assessments, and I think there’s an anticipated Sudan assessment, we would have to have the full funding.

And are you calling full funding the $780 million?

Exactly. Yes, sir.