WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Trump’s proposed 28 percent budget cuts to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department have been met with constant pushback from both sides of Congress since their announcement in March 2017. The budget requests $25.6 billion in funding for the State Department and USAID, which is $10 billion less than last year’s budget. To fit into his “America First” narrative, President Trump also requests a $54 billion increase in defense spending, as his plan is to “prioritize the security and wellbeing of Americans, and to ask the rest of the world to step up and pay its fair share.”
When President Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney was asked how much of the budget cuts would be taken from the foreign aid budget, he responded with “a lot of it,” mentioning later that “most of the cuts within the State Department try to focus directly on foreign aid.” President Trump’s proposed budget also requests cuts from multilateral development banks such as the World Bank, cuts to funding for the U.N. and complete severance of funding for a multitude of independent agencies including the U.S. African Development Foundation and the U.S. Institute of Peace.
Mulvaney has defended these requests by claiming the administration plans to spend fewer dollars overseas and more dollars here in the United States to promote growth and the “America First” agenda. Ultimately, Congress has the power to determine the U.S. budget and most of its members have denounced and criticized President Trump’s cuts to foreign aid.
Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KT), committee chair of the House Appropriation’s Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, said the U.S. “has a vital role to play in advancing democracy, protecting the innocent, helping the displaced and vulnerable, and offering diplomatic solutions to overseas unrest and other challenges abroad.” He further mentioned that if the U.S. is to properly combat ISIS, it cannot solely engage it militarily but must use all of the “diplomatic tools at our disposal.”
Other notable members of Congress like Rep. Ted Yoho, Rep. Ed Royce, House majority leader Rep. Mitch McConnell, Sen. Lindsey Graham and others have all spoken against the cuts with similar reasoning as Rep. Rogers.
In other areas that will be affected by the drastic budget cuts such as Africa, President Trump and his staff have made decisions with which Congress seems to agree. Specifically, Trump has nominated Mark Green, a former congressman, U.S. ambassador to Tanzania and a man touted as an “exceptional choice”, to be the head of the USAID.
Green has been accepted and applauded for his work in Africa. He has been called an individual “driven by a passion for helping people in need” by House Speaker Paul Ryan. He has also been lauded as someone who comes into that position with “unprecedented experience and expertise” by the president of the National Democratic Institute, Kenneth Wollack.
It seems that if anyone is up to the task of leading USAID after such huge proposed budget cuts, Green is the man for the job.
– James Hardison