Rex Tillerson: Under Trump, State Dept. Focused on ‘Security of Its Own Citizens’

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

WASHINGTON, DC – In prepared remarks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday — focused on President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget and, specifically, funding the State Department — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said America’s security is his agency’s priority.

“The 21st century has already presented many evolving challenges to U.S. national security and economic prosperity,” Tillerson said. “We must develop proactive responses to protect and advance the interest of the American people.”

Despite Trump budget’s proposal to cut State Department funding by as much as 37 percent, Tillerson expressed confidence in the proposed budget.

“With such a broad array of threats facing the United States, the fiscal year 2018 budget request of $37.6 billion aligns with the administration’s objective of making America’s security our top priority,” Tillerson said.

“The first responsibility of government is the security of its own citizens, and we will orient our diplomatic efforts toward fulfilling that commitment,” Tillerson said. “While our mission will also be focused on advancing the economic interest of the American people, the State Department’s primary focus will be to protect our citizens at home and abroad.”

Tillerson said U.S. foreign policy will be “guided” by American values.

“Our mission is at all times guided by our longstanding values of freedom, democracy, individual liberty, and human dignity,” Tillerson said. “The conviction of our country’s founders is enduring: that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”

“As a nation, we hold high the aspiration that all will one day experience the freedoms we have known,” Tillerson said.

Although lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have criticized any cuts to the State Department budget, James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation told Bloomberg Politics there was plenty of Obama-era fat to be trimmed.

“If you look at the department’s budget, it has significantly ballooned since 2008 and all of that growth, outside of diplomatic security, is in Obama’s pet projects,” Caravan said. “So I can’t imagine why Tillerson has any commitment to go and defend all of Obama’s pet projects against the president who just put him in the job.”

The Trump budget proposal aims to balance the federal budget over the next ten years by cutting both mandatory and discretionary funding for federal agencies across the board.

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