WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, March 16, the Trump Administration released a preliminary 2018 budget proposal which proposed major changes to discretionary spending in the United States. In particular, the budget proposes a 29 percent cut to the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Treasury International Program.
The State Department is responsible for leading the nation’s foreign policy issues and advising the president on international relations. The mission statement of the State Department is as follows: “Create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community.”
Part of foreign policy in the United States is the coordination of USAID, which provides aid to foreign nations for HIV/AIDS assistance, the reduction of famine, economic development around the world and poverty intervention.
The 2018 preliminary budget reduces the foreign aid and climate change initiatives by $10 billion. In particular, the budget proposal eliminates the Global Climate Change Initiative, a program that assists countries to fund renewable energy efforts and better management of their natural resources.
The budget proposal reduces the U.S. contributions to the United Nations, including the U.N. agencies and peacekeeping operations. The administration did not specify the percentage, but it indicated the number would go down.
While money is still set aside for humanitarian aid, which includes natural disaster relief as well as assistance with refugees, the budget proposal reduces the funding and eliminates $50 million from the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance account. In addition, only Israel would keep its current level of assistance, at $3.1 billion; this is more than any other nation receives.
The United States currently contributes to many international banks, including the World Bank. The World Bank is responsible for funding anti-poverty programs in developing nations. The budget proposal reduces the contribution of the United States by $650 million.
The Trump Administration also proposes cutting all funding to specific organizations involved in global issues including the African Development Foundation, the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Fogarty International Center, an agency devoted to global health research.
The budget proposal continues to support two major health programs: Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which helps fund immunizations in the developing world, and PEPFAR, the successful anti-AIDS program started during George W. Bush’s presidency.
The Trump Administration has repeatedly used the phrase “America First” with regard to foreign policy decisions, focusing on American interests and American national security. The State Department spokesperson echoed the Trump Administration in saying that other nations need to contribute more around the world.
It remains to be seen whether or not Congress will approve the budget proposal, but the cuts would likely impact global poverty, climate initiatives and economic development around the world.
– Jennifer Graham