WASHINGTON -- 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 Office of Management and Budget sent a letter to the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development this month, notifying them of a temporary freeze on funds that Congress had already approved and the potential cancellation of billions of dollars in foreign aid.
The letter, reviewed by The Washington Post, listed eight areas that cover a variety of assistance: international organizations; peacekeeping operations and activities; international narcotics control and law enforcement; development aid; assistance for Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia; economic support funding; foreign military financing programs; and global health programs.
The potential cut to programs 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."
The top members of the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations committees had sent a letter to the 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' 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.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who fought the cuts, sounded an air of caution while traveling in Ottawa on a diplomatic visit that the fight over the rescissions had ended.
"With respect to rescission, the president is still contemplating," he told reporters. "What I have consistently said, with respect to every penny, the State Department spends, including our foreign assistance budget, we've got to get it right and make sure we're using it in ways that are effective."
Information for this article was contributed by Kevin Freking and Lisa Mascaro of The Associated Press; and by Josh Dawsey, Carol Morello, John Hudson and John Wagner of The Washington Post.
A Section on 08/23/2019
Print Headline: Trump ends bid to cut foreign aid, sources say