Kerry testifies on FY16 budget request, responds to CBYX funding cuts

Secretary of State John Kerry, throughout the past two days, testified before several congressional committees with regard to the President’s FY16 State Department budget request. Although topics of discussion during these hearings tended to focus on foreign policy hot spots (such as Syria, Iran, and Ukraine), Rep Charlie Dent (R-PA), a member of the House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and the German-American Caucus, questioned the State Department’s decision to cut funding for the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CYBX) program.

Also the co-chair of the Congressional Study Group on Germany, Rep. Dent raised concerns about the decision to cut in half the funding to the program, from $4 million to $2 million. The Congressman spoke to the weight the program holds, given Germany and the U.S.’s efforts to maintain stability throughout Europe: “[CBYX] is essentially maintaining a strong relationship between the two countries.”

In response, Kerry testified that the “State Department has to meet other high priority exchanges throughout recent conflict zones in Europe.” Kerry spoke about the size of the CBYX program itself, mentioning last year’s 710 participants and noting that “CYBX is going to remain the largest exchange program between the United States and any country.”

The Secretary of State concluded by expressing his belief in the need to “bolster other networks” while considering the limitations of the budget request:

“[The State Department] needs to allocate according to priority given available resources. We must rob Peter to pay Paul. Now, if you want to plus it up a little bit [we] would love to keep it at the same level of funding…all of these efforts are virtuous and important efforts and I think you can see that.”