Congress Responds to Foreign Aid Budget Cuts with New Bill

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — It’s no secret that U.S. diplomacy and humanitarian efforts are expected to fall victim to immense budgets cuts under the Trump administration. According to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, the State Department and USAID budgets are currently at risk of being decreased by 31 percent. However, the proposed foreign aid budget cuts have sparked response from both Republicans and Democrats who argue that these cuts could place U.S. national security at risk.

On June 15th, Republican Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Democratic Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) issued a memo to Congress urging their colleagues and the Trump administration to reconsider the proposed cuts to the International Affairs budget. The senators insist that developmental aid can complement military efforts by working toward political stability and decreasing vulnerability to radicalization. The senators also address the economic benefits of developmental assistance. Other political leaders, such as Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), have spoken on the importance of foreign assistance and addressed Congress in its defense as well. By helping politically unstable countries rise out of poverty, we can combat terrorism, promote economic growth and create potential markets for U.S. exports.

In response to growing concerns about the proposed foreign aid budget cuts, Representative Ted Yoho (R-FL) introduced the Economic Growth and Development Act (H.R. 2747). This legislation would coordinate U.S. foreign aid with private sector investment to increase efficiency. Moreover, it would require an annual report to be submitted by the U.S. President that evaluates the effectiveness of this “interagency mechanism.”

Asked by The Borgen Project about the bill, Ted Yoho stated that “we are going through tough fiscal times as a nation and we need to make sure that aid is used effectively.” Although Rep. Yoho initially wanted to eliminate the foreign aid budget due to previous inefficiencies, he stated that “it is important to use the money invested to create stronger relationships with countries that can potentially become U.S. trading partners.” Targeted foreign aid focused on key developmental issues can be mutually beneficial for both the U.S. and aid recipients.

The Trump administration defends these foreign aid budget cuts as a way for the U.S. to step back from its international spending and force other countries to contribute more in compensation. Nonetheless, international affairs comprised less than one percent of the U.S. budget even before the proposed cuts were issued for next year. With increasing political instability, the U.S. cannot afford to fall short on viable foreign assistance programs that could benefit our national security and economic interests. You can contact your representatives about the Economic Growth and Development Act (H.R. 2747) here.

– Antonina (Nina) Mangiola

Photo: USAID

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