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USAID Leader Is Already Lobbying Trump to Show How Critical Foreign Aid Is

The future of United States foreign aid will be decided within the next few weeks in Congress — and at least one influential official is doing his best to prove that supporting people in foreign countries is in America’s best interest.

Mark Green, the new head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), told Reuters this week that he is ready to prove to Trump that foreign aid can help further the president’s “America First” agenda.

In fact, he’s already been trying to convince him of the effectiveness of aid.

"I said 'Mr. President-elect, I believe our development tools can help us achieve just about every one of your strategic priorities,'" Green said about his first meeting with Trump back in January.

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Trump has proposed cutting all foreign aid by 32% next year, a figure that would devastate the country’s ability to improve global health and end extreme poverty around the world.

But foreign aid also accomplishes domestic goals, Green pointed out, including decreasing illegal immigration.

Green said that in a previous role he worked on aid projects with mayors in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to improve living conditions in those countries "so kids hopefully don't go 1,000 miles through the worst conditions imaginable and jump the border."

"It works and is a great way to use development," he told Reuters.

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A former Republican congressman from Wisconsin, Green reportedly has strong relationships with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in Congress, which could be critical, as Congress will ultimately decide whether to enact Trump’s proposed 32% cuts or to maintain current funding levels of foreign aid.

"What's very different for Mark Green is that his strongest allies are on the Hill," Scott Morris, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington, told Reuters. "Where he faces headwinds are with both the White House and the State Department.”

Read More: How to Talk About Foreign Aid Without Sounding Dumb

Lawmakers are still deciding whether to enact Trump’s cuts; 43 senators have asked the House of Representatives to maintain current funding levels. Global Citizens can reach out to their lawmakers to tell them how important foreign aid is to them.

Green will then be responsible for determining how to make the most of that funding once it is passed in Congress.

"USAID's humanitarian work is unrivaled, it is mobilization of American generosity, and it will continue," Green said. "I am going to ask every program to show me how it is moving us closer to the day when people can lead themselves.”