- The Washington Times - Friday, August 16, 2019

Two top Republican appropriators urged President Trump Friday to abandon a package of foreign-aid cuts of as much as $4.3 billion, saying the proposed action could undermine national security and damage trust with Congress.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, and Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky, top Republican on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, said the spending includes “efforts to counter Kremlin and Chinese malign influence.”

“At a time when threats from Iran are increasing, [the Islamic State] has not been vanquished, the administration is putting significant pressure on the regime in Venezuela, and aiming to curtail the North Korea nuclear program, the rescission package is particularly concerning,” the lawmakers told the president in a letter.

The Washington Times reported Thursday that the cuts under consideration include aid for a so-called “Green New Deal in Africa,” and funding for solar panels in central Asia. A senior administration official said there are 10 broad areas of anticipated cuts in funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, and that a final decision will likely come next week.

The money has already been appropriated by Congress, but unspent funds could be returned to the Treasury before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Mr. Graham and Mr. Rogers said not only do the expected cuts “have the potential to undermine significant national security and anti-terrorism efforts of our diplomats and international partners overseas, but we fear such a rescission package could complicate the ability of the administration and Congress to work constructively on future appropriations deals.”

“We share your concern about our mounting national debt, which in itself creates security risks to the country,” they told the president. “However, it has been reported that this proposal makes sweeping and indiscriminate cuts without regard to national security impacts.”

They said they supported the original budget deal “in good faith.” They also said a legal opinion from the Government Accountability Office in December 2018 “concluded that the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act does not permit the withholding of funds through their date of expiration and notes the president’s responsibility in ensuring prudent obligation of funds.”

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