The White House has released President Trump’s budget request for 2019. Like last year, President Trump is calling for a 30 percent cut to the international affairs budget, which would severely impact the progress in the fight against poverty and preventable disease.
The President’s latest proposal would cut 11 percent from PEPFAR, 31 percent from the Global Fund, 48 percent from food security, 37 percent from nutrition, 36 percent from education, and — once again — zero-out food assistance.
Tom Hart, the North American executive director at ONE, had just this to say:
“This is not a serious proposal and Congress should do as it did last year: ignore it.”
He’s right: Last year, the President’s proposed 32 percent cut was immediately put aside, and as Congress works to finalize the 2018 budget, it has largely ignored the President’s requests for State and USAID.
By the way, ONE members should pat themselves on the back for doing some hard work to help make that happen. They sent 43,000 letters, cards, and emails to their members of Congress urging them to fully fund the international affairs budget. They also made 11,000 phone calls and — perhaps most impressively — went to their representatives’ offices more than 500 times during 2017 for in-person meetings. We know that ONE members will continue the fight in 2018 to protect the investments in programs that have helped millions climb out of extreme poverty.
The budget isn’t all bad news, though. Buried in the 2019 proposal is an important bipartisan idea: new tools for stronger and modernized private-sector engagement in developing countries. It’s not a replacement for foreign aid, but efforts to build infrastructure, start businesses, and expand energy access in developing countries could bring tens of billions of dollars in new investment — not to mention the ingenuity, expertise, and resourcefulness of the private sector — to the fight against extreme poverty.
While ONE is disturbed by the proposed cuts to the State Department and USAID in the President’s 2019 budget proposal, we strongly support the modernization of America’s engagement with the private sector to help developing countries.