17 August 2019
The Trump administration will move forward within days with a plan to cancel certain foreign aid payments authorized by Congress, setting up a fight with lawmakers opposed to the move.
A senior administration official confirmed that the so-called rescissions package would be announced early next week.
Some of the funding being zeroed out was for projects like installing solar panels in the Caribbean and creating safe spaces in Ireland for people upset about Brexit, said the administration official, who declined to be identified discussing plans not yet made public.
CNN reported Saturday that the move would take aim at funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as the United Nations for certain peace-keeping operations in the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
The official said that Congress during the Trump administration has funded State and USAID at about $12 billion above the president’s budget requests, and that the rescission package would return some of that excess back to the budget.
Republican lawmakers who are typically Trump allies, notably Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, this week urged the president to reconsider “in the strongest possible terms” after word of the possible rescissions was reported.
“We share your concern about our mounting national debt, which in itself creates security risks to the country,” Graham and Representative Hal Rogers of Kentucky said in a letter to Trump. “However, it has been reported that this proposal makes sweeping and indiscriminate cuts without regard to national security impacts.”
Graham is chairman of the powerful Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees State Department and USAID funding. Rogers is the top Republican on the corresponding subcommittee in the House. The top Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate foreign affairs committees have also told the administration they oppose the cuts that are being planned under a procedure known as "rescission" and will take action to prevent them.
"We strongly urge you to reconsider this approach," Graham and Rogers wrote. They said a cut to congressionally approved funding without serious consultation "only undermines our national security interests and emboldens our adversaries."
Since taking office in 2017, the Trump administration has sought each year to slash foreign affairs funding by as much as 30% in budget proposals that have been soundly rejected by lawmakers from both parties in Congress.
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The difference between a Socialist and a Communist is that the Socialist doesn't have all the guns yet.
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