Facing bipartisan opposition, President Donald Trump has abandoned his plan to cut some $4 billion in foreign aid that lawmakers had already approved.
A senior administration official and a Democratic congressional aide confirmed the decision Thursday, Aug. 22. Both spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, according to AP.
“The president has been clear that there is fat in our foreign assistance and we need to be wise about where U.S. money is going,” said a senior administration official. “Which is why he asked the administration to look into options to doing just that. It’s clear that there are those on the Hill who aren’t willing to join in curbing wasteful spending,” according to Politico.
House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) said in a tweet on Thursday that the president’s retreat from the rescission was “a win.”
“This is a win. We pressured the White House to call off these proposed cuts. The Constitution grants Congress the power of the purse, and we will not cede that authority to this administration and their constant executive overreach.”
Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) said in a statement that the proposed cuts would have been “harmful to our national security” and violated the good-faith negotiations that brought about the bipartisan budget deal.
“It is important for us all to recognize first and foremost our national security interests and Congress’s Constitutional power of the purse as was acknowledged in a bipartisan way in the rescission discussion, as we move forward in the upcoming budget negotiations,” she said.
Before deciding to kill the plan, President Trump told reporters earlier this week that he had talked with both parties regarding foreign aid and indicated a smaller cut than the previous proposed plan after he talked with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“We’re talking to Republicans and Democrats about it and certain things we could save,” the president said.
Certain things it probably could be, you know, a pennywise. Maybe it’s a pennywise,” he said. “We’ll see. But we are looking at it.”
“Leaders at the Office of Management and Budget hatched the initial plan this month to force the expiration of $2.3 billion for USAID and $2 billion for the State Department, including $787 million for U.N. international peacekeeping activities, $522 million in core funding for the U.N. and $364 million for a range of U.N. humanitarian and human rights programs,” Politico reported.
The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a Washington-based nonprofit that advocates for a strong international affairs budget, cheered the decision.
“Americans can be pleased that the administration recognized the importance of these vital foreign assistance programs for keeping America safe and on the global playing field,” said Liz Schrayer, the group’s president and chief executive officer.
Includes reporting from The Associate Press