President Trump; Pentagon entrance at night

Trump team planning deep cuts in foreign aid

The Trump administration will propose "fairly dramatic reductions" in US foreign aid, the White House budget director confirmed on Saturday.

Published: March 5, 2017, 9:55 am

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    Reuters reported that the US administration plans to propose deep cuts in the budgets to Congress, up to a third for the State Department and Agency for International Development.

    “We are going to propose to reduce foreign aid and we are going to propose to spend that money here,” budget director Mick Mulvaney told Fox News on Saturday, including “fairly dramatic reductions in foreign aid”.

    America spends $600 billion or more each year on the Pentagon. while only just over $50 billion annually on the State Department and USAID. President Trump called the defense hike a sign of “American strength, security and resolve” and has downplayed foreign aid’s benefits.

    Mulvaney said the Trump administration will release its budget proposal on March 16. Reuters reported earlier that the administration is planning significant cuts in domestic programs too.

    The State Department, Environmental Protection Agency as well as safety net programs are expected to take the biggest hits in the budget. Trump might propose a 24 percent cut to the EPA’s budget.

    Mulvaney said the cuts in foreign aid would help towards a proposed $54 billion expansion of the US military budget. “The overriding message is fairly straightforward: less money spent overseas means more money spent here,” said Mulvaney.

    But global interventionist Republicans are furious about the planned cuts to the State Department. Tom Cole, a Republican House appropriator, supports Trump’s Pentagon budget hike but called cutting from the State Department “counterproductive”.

    Cole said foreign aid has helped support military operations in the Middle East. “People seem to think foreign aid is charity. It’s not,” Cole said. “It’s given largely in the interest of the United States.”

    Lawmakers from both parties fear a sharp reduction in State Department funding could increase difficulties for American diplomats and foreign service officers.

    According to a government website, some 20 government agencies plan to award $36.5 billion in foreign assistance programs in more than 100 countries.

    Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, tweeted that the money was not charity, but “critical” to US national security.

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