Washington, DC – Today’s news that the Trump administration no longer plans to rescind billions of dollars appropriated by Congress to the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development to spend on important foreign assistance projects is a huge win for congressional authority and foreign aid. We applaud the many Members of Congress – Republicans and Democrats, House and Senate – who made statements against the rescission package and fought to remind the administration where the constitutional authority to approve the federal budget lies. Also owed credit for this critical success are the many advocates in the international development, national security and foreign policy communities, who raised their collective voices to push back against reports that the administration was considering this move.
We’re relieved the administration chose to listen to the Government Accountability Office, who made it clear that strategically timing a rescission package like this, so that Congress does not have enough time to consider it before the funds expire, would have been illegal. Had President Trump and Mick Mulvaney gone through with the rescission package, they would have essentially held hostage money crucial for national security interests, all for the scheme of undermining congressional authority.
“By considering an override of the constitutional authority of Congress over the federal budget, the administration didn’t just take a sledge hammer to American soft power — Trump attacked the very heart of our constitutional democracy: the ability of Congress and the executive branch to negotiate as co-equal branches of government,” said FP4A Executive Director Andrew Albertson. “Fortunately, we saw yet again a strong bipartisan rejection of this White House’s actions when members of Congress spoke out, knowing we need more than merely a strong military to achieve our goals abroad. We also need a fully funded State Department, US Agency for International Development, and other tools of American influence.”
“The proposed cuts would have hacked away at international assistance, one of the smallest parts of the federal budget, in a way that was clearly not strategic and would have served only to negatively impact U.S. interests abroad. I’m relieved the funding for these valuable tools for security, prosperity and influence will remain intact, as they are critical to U.S. stakes and leadership in the world,” said Mark Lagon, Chief Policy Officer of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; FP4A advisor; and former Ambassador-at-Large to Combat Trafficking in Persons.
“The programs this money funds are critical in defending American interests around the world, keeping us safer and more secure,” said former Deputy National Security Advisor and FP4A Advisor Ambassador Nancy Soderberg. “The administration’s proposed drastic cuts were irresponsible and dangerous. The United States must lead in today’s challenges and State and AID are critical to that mission.”