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Ileana Ros-Lehtinen presses Hillary Clinton on foreign aid

The Secretary of State, who just returned from Geneva, is testifying this morning before the House Foreign Affairs Committee chaired by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen -- who wants to cut foreign aid.

"My constituents, in letters, e-mails and talks with me.. keep asking 'What is the return on our investment,' " Ros-Lehtinen said, quoting a Miami Herald letter from a Rafael Santana who suggested, "foreign aid should go to those countries that are friendly to us."

Ros-Lehtinen said the $61.4 billion international affairs budget request "continues the significant increases of recent years: "The real question is not 'Is this activity useful?' " she said. "But rather: 'Is this activity so important that it justifies borrowing money to pay for it and further endangering our nation's economy?' "

Clinton and former committee chair California Democrat Howard Berman, argued that the spending is critical: "There have always been moments of temptation in our country to resist obligations beyond our borders," Clinton said. "But each time we have shrunk from global leadership, events summoned us back to reality."

Berman argued that "aid to others is not a gift.. helping countries become more democratic, more stable, more capable of defending themselves and pulling themselves out of poverty is just as important for us, our national security and our economic prosperity as it is for them."