This year’s proposal would allot more than $40 billion for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, representing a cut of some 22 percent.
Officials from the State Department and USAID said the budget reflects the administration’s belief that other countries and nongovernmental organizations need to donate more to alleviate international crises and take some of the burden off U.S. taxpayers.
Many think tanks would have donations from the U.S. government sharply reduced or eliminated. Small grants for educational and cultural programs would be scrapped. Funds for disaster relief and to help refugees overseas would be consolidated into a new International Humanitarian Assistance account — and total funding would drop from $9 billion to $6 billion.
“Even at $6 billion, we are still the largest donor in the humanitarian aid space,” said James Richardson, director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources at the State Department. “We’re really looking for the rest of the world to step up.”
But many critics said the proposed budget cuts were ill-timed, as the world races to react to a number of international crises, from Syria to Yemen to the novel conoravirus outbreak.
“To cut money from the World Health Organization just as the WHO is on the front lines of the conoravirus rattles the nerves,” said Peter Yeo, an official at the U.N. Foundation and the Better World Campaign.
“The foreign affairs cuts are so disproportionate, and so out of sync with congressional views, it’s likely to be largely ignored, and Congress will start from scratch.”
Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, dismissed the budget proposal as “dangerous.” Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called it “a waste of the paper it’s printed on.”
“If this draconian budget were enacted, it would weaken our security and leadership around the world,” Engel said in a statement. “That’s how we know that this budget is nothing but red meat for the President’s political base. Congress will again reject this proposal in resounding bipartisan fashion.”
Not every program is slated for cuts.
Support for the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity fund, championed by Ivanka Trump, would double to $200 million.
Military aid would remain at $115 million for Ukraine, a country that had its U.S. support withheld last year in what became the subject of President Trump’s impeachment hearing. But aid to help Kyiv enforce narcotics laws would drop from $30 million to $13 million.
Tom Hart, head of the ONE campaign, which battles global poverty and disease, praised USAID for including funding for the childhood vaccine alliance known as Gavi, but he said in a statement that it was an exception in a budget marked by steep, debilitating cuts.
“This budget is yet another cruel example of the Trump Administration’s retreat from the world’s poorest,” he said. “It’s pretty simple, you can’t fight disease and lift people out of poverty by gutting programs that are doing just that.”