The Trump administration is seeking to cut foreign aid spending, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) dismissed the proposed cuts as “illegal” and claimed it could violate “good faith” of a budget deal sealed between Democrats and the government.
The Office of Management and Budget is reportedly projecting $4.3 billion foreign aid cuts, including about $2.3 billion for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and $2 billion for the State Department through a process called rescission.
The White House said it expects to release its final proposal this week, The Washington Times reported Sunday, adding that among the planned cuts are spending on a so-called Green New Deal for Africa and money for solar panels in Central Asia.
However, Pelosi has warned the proposed cuts could “violate the good faith of our budget negotiations.”
In a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday, August 18, Pelosi wrote, “I request that you work within the administration to stop this proposed rescission, which GAO (Government Accountability Office) states is illegal.”
“We are insisting that the administration spend the appropriated foreign assistance funds, and are working with GAO to make sure the law is followed,” the speaker said.
In a response, President Trump said he would still go forward with the foreign aid cuts as the United States was wasting billions of dollars.
“I support many of those things—we’ll negotiate it out. In some cases, I could see it both ways. In some cases, these are countries that we should not be giving to,” the president told reporters on Sunday.
“I’ve cut back a lot of countries. We give billions of dollars to countries that don’t even like us, and I’ve been cutting that a lot,” President Trump continued.
The president suggested foreign assistance should be a useful leverage for diplomacy, pointing to his decision to revoke aid for Pakistan and the Palestinian Authority.
“I cut back $1.3 billion a year to Pakistan—we have a great relationship with Pakistan now,” he said. “I also cut it back on the Palestinians because they speak very badly about our country. We’re trying to negotiate a peace deal [between the Palestinian Authority and Israel]. And I stopped payment on $500 million a year. But I think they’re going to make a deal. And I think one of the reasons they want to make a deal is because of that.”
Under the America First strategy, the Trump administration is cutting back foreign assistance to save resources for domestic demands.
In mid-June, the administration decided to cut foreign aid funds worth total $450 million for El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, saying these Central American countries have done little to thwart their illegal migrants from approaching the U.S. border.
President Trump in a speech in Pennsylvania on Aug. 13 also complained that the United States is spending money to protect the border of South Korea, “but we don’t protect our own border.”
Reducing foreign aid budget would help also ease the country’s debt burden, but the Trump administration has received criticism from some congressmen saying the reduction would threaten national security and harm the relationship between the United States and other aid-funded agencies, including the United Nations.