Thu, 19 Sep 2019

Facing criticism from Republicans and Democrats, U.S. President Donald Trump has backed off a plan to slash some $4 billion in foreign aid already approved by lawmakers.

U.S. news agencies on August 22 quoted unnamed senior administration officials and a Democratic congressional aide as confirming the White House had decided not to go forward with the planned cuts.

U.S. officials on August 7 said Trump had frozen foreign-aid funding until the White House Office of Management and Budget could review any money that hadn't been spent for the fiscal year ending September 30.

The freeze would have impacted 10 bank accounts overseen by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department, a senior administration official told RFE/RL.

Funding for a Pakistani space initiative and Uzbek education program were among the projects funded by the 10 accounts.

AP quoted an administration official as saying it was clear that many lawmakers were not willing to join in 'curbing wasteful spending.'

Since taking office, Trump has repeatedly sought to cut foreign aid, but the proposals have been rejected by lawmakers from both parties.

Liz Schrayer, chief of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition -- a Washington-based nonprofit that advocates for a strong international affairs budget -- applauded the move to maintain funding.

'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,' she said.

House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said the proposed cuts would have been 'harmful to our national security' and violated good-faith negotiations that brought about the bipartisan budget deal.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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