President Trump is reportedly weighing scaling back the billions of dollars in foreign aid cuts that budget hawks in his administration are pushing, just a few weeks after he signed a major two-year spending deal.
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According to Politico, during a call with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trump appeared willing to abandon part of an earlier plan to put on hold more than $4 billion for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development. Instead, Trump agreed to limit the cuts to a few hundred million dollars, according to Bloomberg News.
If the cut were imposed, it would affect the United Nations the most, Politico reported.
Trump told reporters on Tuesday that a decision about whether to suspend some foreign aid will come within a week.
"We’re looking at it, and we’re looking at it in different ways," Trump said while meeting with the Romanian president in the Oval Office. "We’re talking to Republicans and Democrats about it and certain things we could save."
The request by the White House Office of Management and Budget would cut $4.3 billion in foreign aid that has already been approved by Congress. Both Democrats and Republicans have criticized the possibility of a budget cutback, known as a rescission.
"We strongly urge the Administration to refrain from sending a rescission message to the Congress," Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., members of the House and Senate Budget committees, wrote in a letter addressed to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney.
“In the event the Administration submits such a message, it must take measures to ensure that the affected funds will be prudently obligated in the event the Congress does not approve the rescission, as required by law,” they added.
If the White House moves forward with the rescission, Congress has 45 days -- during which the money is frozen -- to approve the request. Should Congress refuse to pass the decision, that money is then released. However, the current fiscal year ends in 42 days, Politico reported, complicating the issue.
Republicans, including Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., also cautioned against cutting foreign aid.
“At a time when threats from Iran are increasing, ISIS has not been vanquished, the Administration is putting significant pressure on the regime in Venezuela, and aiming to curtail the North Korea nuclear program, the rescission package is particularly concerning,” they said in a letter to Trump last week. “A move to rescind funding absent policy input from the Department of State and USAID only undermines our national security interests and emboldens our adversaries.”