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Albright To Seek More Funding For State Dept.

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WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 11) -- Counting former President George Bush as one of her allies, newly appointed Secretary of State Madeleine Albright took her case for increased State Department funding before a House committee today.

Seeking a 7 percent increase in State's $19.4 billion budget for fiscal 1998, Albright told lawmakers on the House International Relations Committee, "We cannot have world-class diplomacy on the cheap."

She pointed out that, at less than 1 percent of the entire budget, State Department funding has declined 50 percent during the last 10 years.

"If this small amount were to be cut further, it is our influence in the world, not the deficit, that would decline," Albright said.

The secretary of state met with Bush last Saturday in Houston. Echoing her sentiments, the former president noted his secretary of state, James A. Baker III, had pressed Congress for more funding as well.

Republicans in Congress are likely to use the spending issue to push policy changes, such as consolidating the U.S. Agency for International Development within the State Department as well as other cost-saving measures.

But Albright today portrayed America's foreign operations as slim already, pointing out that 2,000 positions had been eliminated in the last four years, and 31 embassies and consulates closed. She also used the occasion to highlight her views on America's use of military might.

"Force, being a blunt instrument and one with sometimes extreme consequences, cannot solve all our problems," she said. "There will be many occasions, in many places, where we will rely on diplomacy to protect our interests, and we will expect our diplomats to defend those interests with skill, knowledge and spine."


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