Kerry: Budget impasse a challenge for US diplomacy

February 20, 2013 - 1:31 PM
Kerry Mideast

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2013 file photo, Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department in Washington. Kerry will make his first overseas trip next week to Europe and the Middle East, but is skipping Israel because that country's government isn't fully formed after recent elections. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry says the greatest challenge to U.S. foreign policy is not emerging China or Middle East instability. It's Congress.

In a speech Wednesday at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Kerry cited the adage that "we can't be strong in the world unless we are strong at home." He called the budget impasse a threat.

The State Department has said automatic spending cuts would jeopardize $2.6 billion in aid, security assistance and other international programs.

Kerry said legislators need to avoid "senseless cuts."

Otherwise, he said his credibility as a diplomat might be damaged.

Kerry said, "Think about it: It's hard to tell the leadership of any number of countries that they must resolve their economic issues if we don't resolve our own."