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Trump kills plan to cut billions in foreign aid

Friday, 23 August, 2019, 16:25
Trump kills plan to cut billions in foreign aid

President Donald Trump has scrapped a plan to freeze more than $4 billion in foreign aid in a move that would have been another end run around Congress’ power of the purse.

The president’s decision Thursday to forgo a “rescission” comes after another internal tug of war between his budget advisers and Cabinet officials. But the fiscal hawks in Trump’s corner, failing again to sell him on spending restraint, blamed Congress for souring him on the idea.

“The president has been clear that there is fat in our foreign assistance and we need to be wise about where U.S. money is going,” said a senior administration official. “Which is why he asked the administration to look into options to doing just that. It’s clear that there are those on the Hill who aren’t willing to join in curbing wasteful spending.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and several GOP lawmakers warned Trump over the last two weeks that the move would be detrimental to national security and to bipartisan negotiations ahead of another shutdown deadline.

The president’s acting budget director, Russ Vought, and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had both pushed Trump to pursue the plan.

Foreign aid advocates were quick to characterize Pompeo as a gutsy crusader against both fiscal hawks and progressive Democrats seeking to politicize foreign assistance.