House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned the Trump administration Sunday that proposed cuts to foreign aid are “illegal” and could jeopardize a two-year budget deal that Democrats recently sealed with President Trump.
In a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, Mrs. Pelosi said the expected cuts of about $4 billion in foreign aid already appropriated by Congress “violates the good faith of our budget negotiations.”
“I request that you work within the administration to stop this proposed rescission, which GAO [Government Accountability Office] states is illegal,” the California Democrat wrote. “We are insisting that the administration spend the appropriated foreign assistance funds, and are working with GAO to make sure the law is followed.”
The White House said it expects to release its final proposal for the foreign aid cuts this week. Among the planned cuts are spending on a so-called “Green New Deal for Africa” and money for solar panels in Central Asia.
Mr. Trump told reporters Sunday that he plans to go forward with the cuts but is willing to talk with lawmakers.
“I support many of those things — we’ll negotiate it out,” the president said. “In some cases, I could see it both ways. In some cases, these are countries that we should not be giving to. I’ve cut back a lot of countries. We give billions of dollars to countries that don’t even like us, and I’ve been cutting that a lot.”
He pointed to his decision to revoke $1.3 billion in aid to Pakistan, and $500 million for the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Trump said it’s useful leverage for diplomacy.
“I cut back $1.3 billion a year to Pakistan — we have a great relationship with Pakistan now,” he said.
“I also cut it back on the Palestinians because they speak very badly about our country. We’re trying to negotiate a peace deal [between the Palestinian Authority and Israel]. And I stopped payment on $500 million a year. But I think they’re going to make a deal. And I think one of the reasons they want to make a deal is because of that.”
Mrs. Pelosi’s letter also noted the opposition to the cuts from two leading Republican appropriators, Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky. They also wrote a letter to the president last week urging him to stop the proposed $4.3 billion in cuts to State Department and United States Agency for International Development.
“A move to rescind funding absent policy input from the Department of State and USAID [U.S. Agency for International Development] only undermines our national security interests and emboldens our adversaries,” the Republicans wrote. “We strongly urge you to reconsider this approach.”