- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 7, 2019

A top Democrat on Wednesday accused President Trump of violating the Constitution after news that the administration has moved to suspend foreign assistance money Congress had approved.

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot L. Engel said freezing the funds would harm U.S. health assistance, could undercut pro-democracy movements and embolden Russia.

And he said not spending the money is illegal.

“When Congress decides how much we spend on foreign assistance, it isn’t a suggestion. It’s the law, backed up by the Constitution,” he said in a statement

The Washington Post reported earlier this week that the White House Office of Management and Budget had put a hold on foreign aid funds, signaling a review of how it is being spent.

In a letter over the weekend OMB told the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development not to dole out assistance money from 15 different accounts. The hold will last until the department and the agency report back on how much money has yet to be spent.

Mr. Trump is already battling Congress over spending on his border wall plans.

Congress allocated just $1.375 billion for the wall this year, but Mr. Trump, citing emergency powers, reallocated nearly $7 billion in money within the Pentagon to go toward the wall.

A judge blocked an initial pot of about $2 billion, but the Supreme Court last month lifted the blockade and allowed the money to be allocated while the court battle rages. 

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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