Trump plans 28 percent cut in budget for
State Department, USAID
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[March 16, 2017]
By Arshad Mohammed
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald
Trump's proposed 28 percent budget cut for U.S. diplomacy and foreign
aid next year would preserve $3.1 billion in security aid to Israel but
reduce funding for the United Nations, climate change and cultural
The budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1 is a first
shot in a battle with Congress - which controls the government's purse
strings - that will play out over months and may yield spending levels
far from those Trump requested.
Congress, controlled by Trump's fellow Republicans, may reject some or
many of the cuts to the U.S. State Department and Agency for
International Development (USAID) budgets, which pay for everything from
maintaining America's diplomatic corps to fighting poverty, promoting
human rights and improving health in foreign nations.
The White House is proposing a combined $25.6 billion budget for the
State Department and USAID, a 28 percent reduction from current
spending, according to documents provided by the White House on
"It is time to prioritize the security and wellbeing of Americans, and
to ask the rest of the world to step up and pay its fair share," Trump
said in a letter introducing his budget, which calls for large increases
in U.S. defense spending.
"This is a 'hard power' budget. It is not a 'soft power' budget," Mick
Mulvaney, Trump's budget director, told reporters, referring to the
president's desire to prioritize military power over the influence that
can flow from development aid.
The budget also requests $12 billion in "Overseas Contingency
Operations," or OCO, funding for extraordinary costs, chiefly in war
zones such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. No comparison was provided
for the current year's OCO spending.
The White House did not provide many details in its "skinny" budget
proposal, a precursor to a more detailed budget submission the White
House has said it will produce in May.
The budget would provide $3.1 billion "to meet the security assistance
commitment to Israel ... ensuring that Israel has the ability to defend
itself from threats" and maintain its military superiority over more
populous Arab neighbors.
It would also "maintain current commitments and all current patient
levels on HIV/AIDS treatment" under PEPFAR, the President's Emergency
Plan for AIDS Relief, which is the world's largest provider of
AIDS-fighting medicine. The program has been credited with saving
millions of lives and enjoys bipartisan support.
The budget would also meet U.S. commitments to the Global Fund for AIDS,
Tuberculosis and Malaria, the documents said.
LOWER U.N. FUNDING
Without giving specifics, the documents laid out areas where the White
House plans to save money, including by reducing U.S. funds to the
United Nations and affiliated agencies "by setting the expectation that
these organizations rein in costs and that the funding burden be shared
more fairly among members."
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Haitians sit in a street next to a logo of USAID (United States
Agency International Development) in downtown Port-au-Prince
February 13, 2010. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
The United States would cut its contribution to the U.N. budget by
an unspecified amount, and the U.S. government would not pay for
more than 25 percent of U.N. peacekeeping costs, the documents said.
The United States is the largest contributor to the United Nations,
paying 22 percent of the $5.4 billion core U.N. budget and 28.5
percent of the $7.9 billion U.N. peacekeeping budget.
A senior U.N. Security Council diplomat, speaking on condition of
anonymity before the budget's release, suggested that the U.S. cuts
could contribute to a perception that Washington's role in the world
was waning. Other diplomats have said China could fill the gap.
"There will be very significant implications if even a half of what
is being speculated about becomes true. And those implications will
be both financial, for those of us who will continue to pay into the
U.N. as we are all required to do, but also geostrategic," the
senior Security Council diplomat said.
Trump also plans to save money by eliminating the U.S. Global
Climate Change Initiative, which among other things seeks to foster
low-carbon economic growth, and by ceasing payments to U.N. climate
change programs via the Green Climate fund.
Other savings would come from cutting funds to multilateral
development banks such as the World Bank by about $650 million over
three years from the Obama administration's commitments; reducing
money for the State Department's Educational and Cultural Exchange
Programs; turning some foreign military aid into loans from grants;
and reorganizing and consolidating the State Department and USAID.
(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Additional reporting by Michelle
Nichols at the United Nations and Roberta Rampton in Washington;
Editing by Peter Cooney and Leslie Adler)
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