WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing bipartisan opposition, President Donald Trump has scrapped an effort to cut some $4 billion in foreign aid that lawmakers had already approved.
A senior administration official and a Democratic congressional aide confirmed the decision Thursday. Both spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
The potential cut to programs at the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development had drawn criticism from Republicans and Democrats.The administration official said it was clear that many on Capitol Hill weren’t willing to join in “curbing wasteful spending.”
Since taking office, the Trump administration has sought each year to slash foreign affairs funding by as much as 30%. Those budget proposals have been soundly rejected by lawmakers from both parties.
The president told reporters Sunday that he backed the cuts saying, “in some cases, these are countries that we should not be giving to.” He also said that foreign aid cuts can lead to talks that improve relationships.
The top members of the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations committees had sent a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget seeking to head off such a move. They said that cutting “crucial” programs would be detrimental to national security and undercut Congress’s intended use for the money.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that the proposed cuts would have been “harmful to our national security” and violated the good-faith negotiations that brought about the bipartisan budget deal.
The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a Washington-based nonprofit that advocates for a strong international affairs budget, cheered the decision.
“Americans can be pleased that the administration recognized the importance of these vital foreign assistance programs for keeping America safe and on the global playing field,” said Liz Schrayer, the group’s president and chief executive officer.
Associated Press congressional correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.