Trump Administration Budget Proposes Drastic Cuts to Foreign Assistance

Photo: Action Against Hunger's health and nutrition programs in Bangladesh screen and provide therapeutic treatment to severely malnourished children.
Photo: Action Against Hunger's health and nutrition programs in Bangladesh screen and provide therapeutic treatment to severely malnourished children

The White House released a budget blueprint on March 16th that proposes slashing the budgets of the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) by approximately one third.  This represents an extremely steep cut, especially in light of the fact that these agencies’ budgets make up only one percent of total U.S. government spending, and it comes at a time when conflicts and extreme food insecurity continue to pose profound challenges and affect millions of people around the world. 

The President’s budget proposal would fund State and USAID at $25.6 billion, with an additional $12 million in supplemental funding through the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.  Such deep cuts would have a devastating impact on the work of humanitarian and development programs funded by State and USAID.

It’s worth noting that the President’s budget is a non-binding document and its release is only the first step in the U.S. budgetary process.  Now, Congress—which has the authority to fund the government and all of its programs, including foreign assistance—must come up with its own version of the budget over the next few months.  Funding for hunger, nutrition and clean water has historically received bipartisan Congressional support, and we are hopeful that Congress will continue to prioritize these programs in their budget.

While the President’s budget contains few details about funding levels for specific accounts (though it does propose to eliminate some programs, like the McGovern-Dole international school feeding program, entirely), it includes some language clarifying the administration’s priorities in international affairs spending.  Some key points about priorities of Action Against Hunger:

  • The budget specifically mentions “deep cuts to foreign aid” and says that “steps to reduce foreign assistance free up funding for critical priorities here at home and put America first.”
  • The budget would “reduce or end direct funding for international organizations whose missions do not substantially advance US foreign policy interests, are duplicative, or are not well managed.”
  • It would cut US funding to the UN, capping the U.S. share of peacekeeping contributions at 25%.
  • It eliminates the Global Climate Change Initiative and US funding for the Green Climate Fund.
  • It “recognizes the need for State and USAID to pursue greater efficiencies through reorganization and consolidation,”—a phrase which raises the possibility of USAID potentially being consolidated with the State Department and no longer remaining an independent agency.
  • The budget states that the funding level proposed still “allows for significant funding for humanitarian assistance, including food aid, disaster, and refugee program funding.”  It’s not clear how these goals would be met given the severe cuts being recommended by the White House, however.

Action Against Hunger believes deeply in the need for strong funding by the U.S. government for programs which promote food security, nutrition, water, sanitation, and hygiene, and humanitarian efforts around the globe.  We are very concerned that the proposed cuts in the President’s budget would harm the ability of the United States to play its role as a leader in the fight against hunger and malnutrition around the world. 

At a time when the world faces the potential for four famines occurring simultaneously and is experiencing the greatest humanitarian and food security crises since the end of World War II, we should not make devastating cuts to our country’s foreign assistance funding.  The one percent of the U.S. budget dedicated to development and humanitarian programs is money well spent, helps millions of people to survive and thrive, and remains a critical investment in creating and maintaining a stable world free from hunger.

Action Against Hunger urges the House and Senate to keep in mind the critically important value of foreign assistance, and the ever-increasing needs of people suffering from hunger and fleeing conflict around the globe, when crafting their own budgets this spring.

In the meantime, we urge you to take a few moments to reach out to your elected representatives and let them know you support strong funding for food security, nutrition, humanitarian and WASH programming and oppose drastic budget cuts.  You can find your representatives’ contact information at www.senate.gov and www.house.gov.

We will keep you posted as we learn more about the House and Senate budgets over the course of the next several months.  Thank you for your support and advocacy for vulnerable people around the globe at this critical moment.

 

 

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About Melissa Kaplan

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Melissa serves as an Advocacy Officer for Action Against Hunger, based in Washington, D.C. She advocates key policymakers to provide strong funding and awareness of nutrition, food security, and water, sanitation, and hygiene issues.