Trump’s Budget Cuts Foreign Aid, Maintains Embassy Security

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget calls for a massive 28 percent reduction in the Department of State and other foreign policy agencies, but maintains funding for embassy security.

The budget, titled “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” allotted the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) $25.6 billion in base funding, and another $10.1 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding for war-torn areas like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Treasury International Programs requested $1.5 billion, which represents a 35 percent drop.

Despite the overall cuts, the budget proposal makes a point to maintain “robust funding levels for embassy security and other core diplomatic activities.” Included in the proposal is $2.2 billion for new embassy construction and maintenance for 2018, as per the Benghazi Accountability Review Board’s recommendations.

“Maintaining adequate embassy security levels requires the efficient and effective use of available resources to keep embassy employees safe,” according to the text of the budget.

Overall, the budget proposal is critical of foreign aid, and cuts much of its funding for international agencies. United Nations funding is reduced, including U.N. peacekeeping and other international organizations. The proposal aims to set “the expectation that these organizations rein in costs and that the funding burden be shared more fairly among members.” As part of that initiative, U.S. contributions to the U.N. are cut and it would not contribute more than 25 percent for peacekeeping costs.

The budget proposal claimed it maintains “significant” funding for humanitarian assistance, despite the cuts. Again, the administration emphasized this is a result of trying to make sure the world pays “their fair share” and encourage international organizations to become more efficient.

Trump’s next step is to convince Congress to join him in what is likely to be a very controversial budget process. Dissenters from both inside and outside his party could prove to be an impediment to the already controversial budget.

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