Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spent the past two days in Washington defending proposed massive cuts to the foreign affairs budget, using the ‘less is more’ approach. Critics on both sides of the aisle characterized his proposal to cut the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) by about 30 percent as “reckless” and “divorced from reality.”
The U.S. government this week suspended $21 million in aid funding to the Ministry of Health in Kenya over allegations of corruption.
Forty-three senators signed an open letter to the four senators leading federal budget negotiations, asking them to protect the foreign aid budget. Members from both major parties requested “robust funding” for the international affairs budget – home to diplomatic and foreign aid spending. The letter comes just days after a Trump administration budget document was leaked proposing deep cuts to foreign aid programs and to shift money away from USAID to the State Department.
The Trump administration appears to be planning a major restructure of the U.S. aid agency. Money for USAID would shift to the State Department as a part of the White House effort to streamline the federal government, according to a leaked budget document obtained by Foreign Policy.
Two officials with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are traveling to East Africa this week to meet with governments and humanitarian actors about the emerging hunger crises in the region. They arrive at a time when $4.4 billion is needed to help some 20 million people, and the Trump administration is seeking to cut the foreign aid budget.
The Trump administration’s federal budget released on Thursday deals a 36 percent cut to the State Department – most coming from foreign aid and humanitarian programs. Faith leaders, politicians and aid groups immediately condemned the budget, saying it harms U.S. national security and endangers the lives of millions of vulnerable people around the world.
The U.S. Agency for International Development announced Wednesday that its contractors cannot discriminate based on race, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. The policy does not apply to employees of foreign aid contractors and grant recipients.
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