Kerry: Budget request will provide for counterterrorism efforts

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that new reforms will allow the State Department to strengthen national security and global interests while reducing costs, according to a statement on Wednesday.

Kerry made the statement before the House Foreign Affairs Committee while discussing the State Department's 2014 budget request. The Fiscal Year 2014 budget request represents a six percent decrease from 2012 funding levels and it includes $8.6 billion set aside for security, counterterrorism and law-enforcement assistance.

"The U.S. homeland will not be secure if violent extremists are bent on attacking us and they can find a safe haven in places like the Sahel or the Maghreb," Kerry said. "The threats that we're dealing with in that part of the world range from al-Qaeda rebels to narco-traffickers. And this budget sets aside $8.6 billion for our security, for counterterrorism, law-enforcement assistance. I ask you, every member, just compare that $8.6 billion to the more than $1 trillion we have spent fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and I think you'll agree that it's both penny-wise and pound-wise."

Kerry said the State Department has learned to do more with less, spending $3.5 million on its Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, which prevented violence leading up to the recent elections in Kenya. Kerry said the department's anti-terrorism assistance funding has helped hundreds of people in India, Lebanon and Pakistan, by training law enforcement to detect and neutralize explosive devices.

Kerry closed by saying that the U.S. stands opposed to people who seek war instead of peace.

"We stand for optimism," Kerry said. "We stand for opportunity. And we stand for equality. And we stand in opposition to all those who would replace hope with hate, who replace peace with violence and war. That's what we believe. That's what America is at the best, and that's the values of the State Department and USAID that I intend to defend every single day."