President Donald Trump will reportedly seek to freeze over $4 billion in aid to more than 100 countries for the current fiscal year.
That sure sounds like a good idea, given the U.S. is expected to run about a $1 trillion deficit in 2019, but Trump is getting push back from congressional members on both sides of the aisle.
According to CBN News chief political analyst David Brody, a senior administration official told him the move will be part of a “rescission package” aimed at canceling billions of unspent foreign assistance funds.
The money has been appropriated to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Roll Call reported, “Stakeholders expected the White House would formally submit the cuts package to Congress this week, which would trigger a freeze on the funds and make it difficult for lawmakers to save them from expiring because the end of the fiscal year is a little over a month away…”
“The 1974 budget law that created the current rescission’s process allows the president to freeze spending on certain programs for 45 days of a continuous legislative session, while lawmakers weigh whether to approve the proposed cancellations.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposes the move, telling Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a letter last week that withholding appropriated money, “overrides Congress’ most fundamental constitutional power” and “violates the good faith” of the budget negotiations.
Pelosi also passed on the language from a Government Accountable Office legal opinion finding that the Impoundment Control Act of 1974 does not allow the president to run out the clock, so to speak, on submitting rescissions to Congress.
The speaker further informed Mnuchin that there is bipartisan opposition to Trump’s rescission package from the chairmen and ranking members of both the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations committees.
GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has also come out in opposition to the plan.
Politico reported that Graham and Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky cautioned the cuts would undermine “significant” national security efforts and “complicate the ability of the Administration and Congress to work constructively on future appropriations deals.”
Pelosi and lawmakers like Graham certainly make a valid point that as a general rule, it is not the role of the executive branch to be deciding whether to spend appropriated funds.
However, one would hope, given the relatively small amount in question, in relation to the $4 trillion in annual federal spending, that Congress could get together and agree not all the funds slated overseas is necessary, especially given the U.S. is having to borrow it in the first place.
Some of the money in question involves sacred cows for Democrats, like abortion and green energy.
Brody highlighted in his reporting that the cuts will include funds going to “voluntary family planning” in the the west African countries of Sierra Leone, Niger, Burkina Faso and Benin.
“The president himself has stated that there is a lot of fat in the foreign assistance we provide,” a senior official told Brody. “While there are many great programs we support around the world, taxpayer dollars should not be spent on ‘voluntary family planning’ in Africa — which could include abortion. This administration is committed to cutting wasteful spending and protecting the unborn.”
Beyond family planning programs the Trump administration is also looking to cut “Guatemalan agriculture technology, solar panels in Central Asia, crop diversity in Bangladesh, desert survival courses in Egypt and cuts to border security funds provided to more than a dozen countries including El Salvador,” according to CBN.
It does seem ironic that Democrats are willing to pay for border security in El Salvador and many other countries, but balk at funding a wall on our southern border.
Trump is probably making a good move politically, even if Congress does not allow him to rescind any of the foreign aid, because he will at least have shown American taxpayers he is trying to be responsible with their money, even if the swamp will not cooperate.