Democrats are proposing a massive boost to the U.S. State Department budget – a $12 billion increase. This change would raise the current budget from $56.6 billion to a whopping $68.7 billion. Lawmakers advocating for the change say that the money would go toward climate change, pandemic prevention and competing with China’s ambitious government. Nonetheless, getting that $12 billion increase approved by a 50-50 Senate will likely be a difficult battle.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) and Rep. David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) are just a few of the lawmakers leading the charge for the proposed budget boost. Democrats claim that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the U.S. to learn some difficult lessons.

“If this year has taught us anything, it’s that the biggest threats posed to our country really aren’t foreign armies,” Murphy said. “We must maintain the strongest military on the planet, but we have to get smarter about the national security challenges that can only be met with non-military solutions.”

Cicilline also expressed some concern over competing with China’s budget. “Over the last decade, China has doubled its diplomatic budget and expanded its malign sphere of influence,” he said. “Our diplomats deserve a budget that meets their needs and allows them to do the critical work of keeping our country safe.“

The lawmakers’ plan also seeks funding for anti-propaganda efforts, fighting overseas corruption, bolstering diplomacy efforts and climate initiatives. They also stressed the importance of proposing this plan now, seeing as the new administration has yet to submit its budget.

“This is a unique moment with a new administration and a new understanding in the American public of the threats presented to the United States, for us to reset our national security budget,” Murphy stated. “We’ve taken some risks by putting pen to paper and proposing real numbers and specific increases in programming, but we think it’s the moment for specifics.”

After speaking with national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the Democrats’ plan, Murphy commented that many people inside the Biden administration were “sympathetic” to the need for a strong State Department and USAID.

Rep. Ami Bera (D-California), who has also been involved in the plan for a potential budget increase, has called the $12 billion a “down payment” to aid U.S. diplomacy and development. Bera added that the budget increase could be seen as a reallocation of resources from the Department of Defense to other agencies.

During former President Donald Trump’s tenure, many government divisions such as the State Department underwent massive budget cuts.

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