On March 16, President Trump announced his desire for significant cuts to US foreign assistance.
At just 1% of the US budget, America’s foreign aid is a vital part of its national security, fosters America’s influence in the world, and saves millions of lives. Substantive cuts to foreign assistance greatly endanger the security, health and future prosperity of America.
On May 23rd, the White House released their full budget request for 2018, offering the first look at specifically where they propose cuts to foreign aid. Notably, the budget request calls for a huge 32% cut to funding for international affairs. This includes the elimination of Food for Peace, one of America’s major food aid programs, and reducing funding for global basic education by more than half.
Foreign aid and diplomacy cost significantly less than military intervention. As Secretary of Defence Mattis said in 2013,
“If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately. So I think it’s a cost benefit ratio. The more that we put into the State Department’s diplomacy, hopefully the less we have to put into a military budget as we deal with the outcome of an apparent American withdrawal from the international scene.”
Over the next few months, Congress will take the White House’s request into consideration as they work to develop the federal budget for 2018. Holding the ‘power of the purse’, Congress has the exclusive right to determine how much money will be spent on foreign assistance next year.
After rumors about potential cuts to foreign assistance were released on February 27, many Republican members of congress stepped up to demonstrate their support for foreign assistance. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) even said that Trump’s budget would be “dead on arrival.”
Foreign aid has long had bipartisan support. Now, it is more important than ever that Congress stands firmly in support of foreign assistance. Call your member of congress now to make sure that they will stand up for lifesaving programs like global education and polio eradication.