Politics

Trump Orders Freeze of Billions in Congressionally Approved Foreign Aid

By PoliZette Staff | August 9, 2019

The Trump administration has put a temporary hold on some congressionally approved foreign aid funds.

That’s pending a State Department review as well as by the U.S. Agency for International Development, as many news outlets have reported about the development.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) informed the two agencies in a recent letter that “unobligated funds” would be frozen until “three business days after” State and USAID provide an accounting of how much remains in specific accounts — and how, exactly, those funds are being spent. The funds expire on September 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was out of the country when OMB sent its letter. It was addressed to Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan.

Congress was and is still on its long August recess — lawmakers don’t return until September 9, well after Labor Day.

A USAID official told CNN the funding amounts to somewhere between $2 billion and $4 billion, as Fox43 reported.

“Trump’s order to freeze billions in aid dollars is only subjecting these allotments to review before being released.”

The accounts specified in the letter include funding for international organizations, international peacekeeping, international narcotics control and law enforcement, global health, development assistance, foreign military and assistance for Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia.

The Trump administration’s decision drew anger from some lawmakers, who felt it was overstepping.

“This administration’s contempt for Congress is astounding,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. “When Congress decides how much we can spend on foreign assistance, it isn’t a suggestion. It’s the law, backed up by the Constitution.”

And here’s what Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a 2020 Democratic candidate for the presidency, shared on her Twitter feed:

This sentiment has been shared by outside observers as well, as writer Samuel Siskind at OpsLens pointed out.

InterAction, for example, a global alliance of nongovernmental aid organizations, denounced the action in a statement by its CEO Sam Worthington.

“It is both disappointing and saddening that President Trump constantly undermines the decisions that our elected representatives in Congress have made to support foreign assistance,” said Worthington, who added in the statement, “Data tells us that the small fraction of America’s budget that goes to foreign aid yields big results. The White House’s repeated political ploys to halt aid threaten the effectiveness of U.S. assistance and put America’s global leadership at risk.”

Yet many people should not be surprised: When American interests are not being served, President Donald Trump has cut back on foreign aid.

Also, for the record, the administration is not actually “cutting” aid, as some people suggest, which Siskind also noted. “That indeed is the decision of Congress.”

“Rather, Trump’s order to freeze billions in aid dollars is only subjecting these allotments to review before being released.”

OMB spokeswoman Rachel Semmel told reporters that federal agencies have a responsibility to spend congressionally approved funds appropriately.

“In an effort to ensure accountability, OMB has requested the current status of several foreign assistance accounts to identify the amount of funding that is unobligated,” Semmel said.

Share your thoughts below.

This piece originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.

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View Comments

  • WHERE IS IT WRITTEN IN STONE THAT THE US TAXPAYERS ARE SUPPOSED TO SUPPORT EVERY COUNTRY AROUND THE WORLD AND MANY THAT HATE THE US???

  • I find it interesting when President Trump pokes the wasp nest (congress) they get all excited and mad. And yet, think it's ok when they harass him and his family to no end. Our congress critters are just a building full of cry babies. I don't know if we have enough pacifiers for all of them.

  • I am in full support of President Trump having OMB track for accountability on these funds. Also in favor of tracking for full accountability of all spending of tax dollars. :)

  • That is funny, that is the exact same rational that Obama used. What is good for Trump is also good for Obama.

  • Whether you like it or not, that is how this constitutional government works. Either you respect the constitution with all that it represents or you do not! You cannot pick and choice when the constitution works for your needs.

  • I would bet my last dollar this could interfere with "Congress Critters" stuffing their pockets with the American peoples money$$$$,,,And that is their pacifier....

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