(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Representative Doug Collins (R-GA) participated earlier today in the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on President Obama’s FY14 Foreign Affairs Budget. Secretary of State John Kerry was on-hand for his first appearance before the committee to defend the President’s $3.8 trillion spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year. Collins briefly questioned Secretary Kerry on the State Department’s prioritization of American tax dollars as reflected by the President’s FY 2014 budget proposal. Additionally, Collins submitted the two below questions for the record. He also offered the following statement later this afternoon:
“No matter what area of the federal budget we discuss in Washington, it must be noted that our Commander-in-chief refuses to address our nation’s out-of-control spending policies,” Collins said. “Instead, President Obama wishes to put additional pressure on every American business and family by increasing taxes and taking away more of their hard-earned money. Our government has to learn to make difficult decisions with our limited financial means, and today’s hearing was one step toward accomplishing that.
“While I appreciate Secretary Kerry taking the time to come before the committee, uncertainty still remains on how the Obama Administration intends to spend the $1.6 billion in aid it has asked to send to Egypt next year – that’s simply too much money in an area with so much ambiguity. What specific conditions have we put on the Egyptian government as it relates to receiving these funds, and what goals are or quantifiable results have been set to ensure the Egyptian government is living up to its end of the bargain? These are explanations the American people deserve to know, and from my position on this committee I intend to relay those answers.”
Rep. Collins, now serving as Vice Chair to the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, has asked the State Department to respond to the below questions:
1) What conditions has the State Department put on foreign assistance to the Egyptian government? What are the qualitative or quantifiable results we are expecting from Egypt? What is the measurable return tax payers are guaranteed for this level of investment?
2) In FY11 and FY12, the Administration responded to the Arab Spring with the Middle East Response Fund (MERF). These funds where reallocated from existing funds, $135 million in FY11 and $166 million in FY12. In both years these funds were spent at the same pace or slower than normal appropriations, even though they were designated as “rapid response funding.” The MERF funds have been renamed Contingency Fund which functionally operates under the MENA-Incentive Fund. The State Department is asking for $580 million for the MENA-Incentive Fund; $150 million which is allocated for the Contingency Fund or MERF. The Contingency Fund is categorized as “rapid response funds.” If “rapid response funds” aren’t being spent rapidly, why are they necessary?